UTPA students ready for Aero Design 2001 airplane competition
Posted: 06/06/2001
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After nine months designing their own model airplane, five mechanical engineering students from The University of Texas-Pan American are traveling to California to compete against more than 30 other teams in the Aero Design 2001 competition, June 8-10.

"The Aero Design competition challenges engineering students to conceive, design, fabricate and test an aircraft," said Dr. Hashim Mahdi, director of the UTPA mechanical engineering program and team advisor. "It gives us the opportunity to compete against schools that are well-known for their engineering programs."

Teams had to construct their planes using the same model and brand engine. Designs are limited to 1,200 square inches in size, 300 cubic inches of cargo space and a 10-foot wingspan.

The UTPA team includes La Joya senior Ricardo Flores, 23; McAllen junior David Hetrick, 22; Edinburg senior Roberto Lopez, 30; La Joya junior Jose Garcia, 20; and Edinburg senior Ruben Gomez, 25.

During the competition, the team will present its design to a panel of judges. The aircraft, named "Triton," must take off in 200 feet, make at least one 360-degree turn and land in the same direction as the take off, Mahdi said.

During the test flight, the aircraft must lift at least eight pounds of cargo.

"The aircraft has some limitations, but I am confident the team will do well," Mahdi said.

The UTPA team will be competing against the University of British Columbia, Ohio State University, the U.S. Air Force Academy, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and others.