Engineers win competition

Photo submitted.

A group of UND students recently took part in an annual engineering design competition and won first place, giving them the chance to take their design to an international competition next fall.

Alex Heyd, Aric Glaser, Chris Borseth, Daniel Smith and Scott McDaniels spent the past two and a half months designing an unmanned air vehicle for the annual American Society of Mechanical Engineers conference. The conference took place in Madison, Wis. and featured 27 schools from the Midwestern United States and central Canada. The students now have the opportunity to take their design to the international ASME competition next November in Montreal.

“The students had the same design competition in class,” faculty advisor and engineering professor Dustin McNally said. “They brainstormed and then had to build a prototype.”

That prototype, a “quad copter” has four motors with 16- inch propellers and weighs 38 pounds. Part of the competition involved navigating the UAV through a 28-inch hoop, through two gates, setting it down on a target and then returning the UAV to the starting point. UND students were the only ones to come up with the idea of fold-up propellers, allowing them to build more weight into the structure.

“The fold-up design is a novel idea,” McNally said.

The electrical components of the UAV had to be purchased online, and the aluminum was purchased locally and the students received funding help from the university.

Heyd said they came up with the design after a lot of time, “beating our heads against the wall.”

“This was a massive headache,” Heyd said. “And now we have to go through it again.”

The students will spend the rest of this semester and the beginning of next semester rethinking and rebuilding their prototype for the competition in November.

“They have to build a bigger and more powerful design in order to compete at the international competition,” McNally said.

The ASME is an internationally recognized organization that almost all practicing mechanical engineers are a part of. UND has an ASME student chapter on campus which has been growing in recent years.

“Hopefully we will see a large boost to our ASME student chapter,” McNally said. “This win showcases bringing back our student chapter.”

McNally said when he was a student at UND, his team took third place at an ASME competition and a team took second place a few years ago, but believes this is the first time a UND team has taken first.

“This showcases the strength of the programs here,” McNally said. “These sophomores were competing against seniors from other schools and they came up with better ideas.”

The first place victory gave the students a $500 grand prize, plus $1,500 for travel expenses to the international competition. The students plan on fundraising to help with the remaining costs of the trip. The grand prize at the international competition is $5,000.

“Hopefully we can win in November and get UND some recognition,” Glaser said. “Plus it’ll be a big resume builder for all of us.”

Megan Hoffman is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].