University of Miami’s American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) got wings this Saturday at the Redbull Flugtag competition.
Held at Bayfront Park, Flugtag requires competitors to fly homemade flying machines with size and weight constraints.
The aircraft was piloted by juniors Oliver Doggart, Ben Patterson and Jon Katzman, and seniors James Johnston and Samad Chaudhry as part of the flight crew.
Before take-off, ASME’s team performed a skit involving crash-test dummies and an evil engineer.
“We are wearing morph suits that look like crash-test dummies and then the pilot is an evil engineer that’s an oppressor,” Johnston said. “We push him into the water and we do this skit before we push off.”
Their aircraft named Enalpria – which is airplane spelled backwards – flew 60 feet, almost twice the distance from last year’s 36 feet.
ASME’s team did not place or win the People’s Choice award like last year. That did not stop Doggart from enjoying the “blurring” experience.
“I was pretty nervous the entire time we were lining up, but once they started pushing though, I got in the zone,” he said. “After the flight, I was pretty pumped up. It was all a blur.”
Before taking off though, Enalpria was planned and built through different stages. At the end of summer and first week of school, they planned the structure of the aircraft and then began to put together the platform the first two weeks of classes.
Essentially, they took last year’s design and switched it around.
“We have a newer wing design and we repurposed what we did from the wing and moved it from the back to front so it increases the chances of it gliding further,” senior Mike Saint-Jean said.
On their fourth building day on Wednesday though, ASME hit a wall in their design.
“This is gonna be a long night,” junior Ben Patterson said.
Their original plan, which was to put shrink wrap around the wings, backfired.
“We put shrink wrap on the wings, but it tightens between the two wings and it shrinks in all three dimensions, making it not strong,” Patterson said.
They decided instead to place spacers in the front, like the back, to keep the wings together.
After finishing the building process, they tested the aircraft and turned in their aircraft in Friday morning at 9:30 a.m.
“We usually fly 30-40 feet, but there was a crew error last year, so we are hoping to fix that,” Doggart said. “We are renting a U-Haul truck to transport it to Bayfront too.”
ASME has been competing in Flugtag for four years and it has become a tradition within the club, the College of Engineering and the school.
“We’ve already begun planning our craft and skit for next year’s Flugtag,” Chaudhry said. “I heard all the outgoing seniors talk about how awesome the experience was in the previous years, so I knew that, as a senior, I wouldn’t have many more opportunities to participate in this type of experience. I wasn’t really looking to win any awards, but the hands-on experience I could gain was a huge incentive.”
Though the project requires hours of time and effort, students who participate in Flugtag as part of ASME have the opportunity to apply fundamentals learned in classes to real world scenarios.
“There are not many things better than working on a craft, pushing it off a 30 foot platform, watching it ‘fly’ and then jumping in after it,” Chaudhry said. “In all honesty, the biggest draw of Flugtag is how awesomely fun it is.”