Westlake High School TechMates take to the skies in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Contest

WHSKutz-1Unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV), or drones, as they are often called, are being utilized more and more frequently in the aviation industry along with other new and innovative related technologies.

Sponsored by Rapid Prototype and Manufacturing LLC (rp+m) in Avon Lake, students in the Westlake High School Technology & Engineering department participated in a UAV Design Contest to learn about drone operation, design, and cutting edge technology in the manufacturing industry.

The students were challenged to research, reverse engineer, and re-design the landing gear and blade guards of an existing Quad-Copter Drone. The students 3-D printed their designs for testing and evaluation. In the final operation phase, they created an aerial pathway using a smartphone for the drone to take flight autonomously in a pattern that they drew on the smartphone.

The designs were judged in several categories including cost effectiveness, ease of use, functionality, creativity, and degree of difficulty of the aerial flight path. They were required to produce drawings and renderings through a computer-aided-design (CAD) model. Prizes in the contest include a drone for the winner, and gift cards for second and third place.

Winning the first place prize was the team of KATIE WILLI (SO.), CONNOR HARTE (SO.), PATRICK GHEEN (SO.), and SNEHA RAMACHANDRAN (SR.).

Finishing in second place was the team of MARK SARGENT (SR.), CONNOR REIS (SO.), and MICHAEL REES (JR.).

Finishing third was the team of DAVID EPPELE (SR.), ETHAN SIMON (SO.), ROBERT FULOP (SO.), and AUSTIN LOOSLI (SO.).

As part of their Capstone experience, the students visited the rp+m to tour the facility, then presented their designs to a panel of rp+m professionals. Judges on the panel include Steve Speaker (Industrial Design Engineer), Kyle Myers, Ph.D. (Research & Development Engineer), contest organizer Dana Hartup (Project Manager), and Tracy Albers, Ph.D. (CTO & President).

Currently, the most common occupations in the UAV industry are with the military or in unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturing. The military uses them mainly for surveillance in the interest of national defense, while manufacturers focus on the design, construction, testing and flying of unmanned aerial vehicles. Others include police departments for tracking criminals, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for aeronautical research, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for hurricane research, agriculture industry to survey land, companies like Amazon to deliver e-commerce packages, transport cameras to search for survivors in a burning building, assess high-rise rooftops for weather damage and survey an area upset by natural disaster. The potential opportunities are almost endless.

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