NYU Tandon Team takes Top Ten Internationally in SAE AERO DESIGN WEST Competition

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Team WingingIt Bested Groups from Around the World in a Quest to Design a Low-Power Consumption Remote-Controlled Passenger Aircraft

The SAE Aero team’s aircraft from the Tandon School of Engineering placed tenth internationally and third nationally among nearly 40 teams in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Aero Design West Competition. Every year, around 70 teams from around the world gather in Van Nuys, California, for a chance to fly the model aircraft they built during that year. Competitors are given the opportunity to tackle real-life aeronautical design challenges by building an airplane in either the Micro, Regular, or Advanced Classes, and must employ innovative thinking to adapt with the evolving rules.

NYU has established a formidable history in the SAE Aero event, having competed mostly every year for over a decade. In recent years, Regular Class teams have improved upon the success of their predecessors, with the 2014 team taking 27th place, and last year’s team taking 15th place. It goes to say that each Aero design team at NYU has inspired the next one to transcend it, and such is the case for the 2018 team WingingIt.

This year’s competitors were tasked with designing, building and flying a model passenger aircraft carrying a payload. In the Regular Class, the all-electric craft is built under rigorous technical requirements, including but not limited to size, weight, material and power constraints. Much like a commercial airliner, the plane holds separate compartments to carry “passengers” (tennis balls) and “luggage” (metal plates) in a tight fuselage. The aircraft, manufactured mostly out of foam and wood, weighs 38 pounds fully loaded and has a wingspan of 12 feet, making it among the largest at the competition.

WingingIt completed five flights with 18 passengers and a total of 37 pounds of payload carried across all rounds – the highest achieved in this category by an NYU team so far. Performance at the event is determined by the successful completion of flight rounds while carrying as much payload as possible. The team also credits their pilot, Matt Carroll, for his skillful flying; Team Captain and lead Manufacturing Engineer, Luciana Jaalouk, comments “he kept the plane under control at some tricky moments, even at takeoff amid heavy crosswinds.” She attributes their consistent flight success to their “sturdy large wings and airfoil and motor choice.” Electronics Engineer, Marc Rozman, states “the majority of the planes at the event were either unable to take off or crashed. Since the team didn’t have prior experience in designing airplanes, having the plane airborne was the number one priority.”

In addition, WingingIt was one of the few teams to have test flown their aircraft prior to the competition, allowing time for required modifications and improvements. The team completed manufacturing by the end of February 2018, “the fastest anyone at NYU had the aircraft ready for test flight,” said Joseph Borowiec, team Advisor and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Industry Professor, “and rebuilt their entire fuselage within two weeks only of their first test flight.”

The team is comprised entirely of Senior Mechanical Engineering students. The members of WingingIt are:

  • Luciana Jaalouk – Team Captain: Senior, Major: Mechanical Engineering, Minor: Aerospace Engineering
  • Juhi Singh: Senior, Major: Mechanical Engineering, Minor: Computer Science
  • Marc Rozman: Senior, Major: Mechanical Engineering, Minor: Aerospace Engineering
  • Shivam Suleria: Senior, Major: Mechanical Engineering, Minor: Aerospace Engineering
  • Eduardo Hernandez: Senior, Major: Mechanical Engineering, Minor: Aerospace Engineering
  • Justin Talevski: Senior, Major: Mechanical Engineering, Minor: Aerospace Engineering


    The team hopes to pass the Aero Design mantle and their acquired knowledge onto prospective students. Whereas NYU has traditionally enrolled students for the competition from the Senior Design class, changing the team structure into a Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) would make it more accessible to students of different levels and across disciplines. Luciana Jaalouk states “there is still a long way to go for NYU, and the team hopes that each milestone made in the right direction, with the right guidance, will get students closer to nab a top slot in the near future.”

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGqwALv0bGI]

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