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Clarkson University Team Flies High in Design/Build/Fly Competition

As he concludes his time as a leader on Clarkson University's Design/Build/Fly Team, graduating senior Jacob "Jake" Miller of Warsaw, N.Y., has this advice for next year's team: “Don't think this was easy. Don't get lazy.”

Front row: Jacob Miller, Barry Pawlowski and Christopher Tarbell. Back row: Christopher Siegel, Ken Visser (faculty advisor), Paul Iannetta, Jacob Lathrop, Ben Tessler, Brian Bullinger, Christian Richter, Supatpitak The DBF team, part of the University's SPEED (Student Projects in Engineering and Design) program, recently returned from competition in Wichita, Kan., where they placed 19th out of 80 teams, including powerhouse competitors from big schools like UCLA, Penn State, and Cornell. This finish represented a fire-in-the stomach comeback from last year, Miller notes.

“After last year, we just all looked at one another and said 'We can do better.' We took all we learned and applied it. We put the right people in the right spots and knocked every calculation out of the park,” he says.

Bob Davis is the director of the SPEED Program, which has 15 extracurricular teams in which students work on projects that hone their engineering and design skills. The teams choose their leaders, work up a budget and figure the logistics of their projects.

“This provides hands-on education in addition to all the theory they study,” Davis says. “About 300 students participate on these teams. That's comparable to our number of athletes, so these students get team-based experience as well.”

Every year, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics invites students from across the world to participate in the Cessna/Raytheon Missile Systems Design/Build/Fly (DBF) competition, which is held at sponsor sites in Kansas and Arizona.

This year, all teams were required to design a bush plane that could take off in less than 40 feet, carry a variety of payload weights, and reach certain speeds. There also was a simulated medical evacuation flight with unusually shaped cargo, and a rough taxi test.

“The issues we had were not with the plane, but with the handling on our end sometimes. It's a light, fragile craft and the winds were up to 30 mph. Overall, I'm happy with all our team accomplished. Credit goes to them,” says Miller.

Members of the 2014 DBF team are Miller, Brian Bullinger, Paul Ianetti, Jacob Lathrop, Barry Pawlowski, Christian Richter, Joel Ross, Christopher Siegel, Nateenond Supatpitak, Christopher Tarbell and Ben Tessler. The team is advised by Associate Professor of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Ken Visser.

The DBF plane, dubbed Clara, and a trophy that all the team members signed is on display at Clarkson.

Clarkson University's SPEED program promotes multidisciplinary project-based learning opportunities for more than 300 undergraduates annually. SPEED projects involve engineering design and analysis, fabrication, and the enhancement of professional competencies, such as budget management, effective teamwork and communication skills. SPEED receives its primary financial support from General Electric, Snap-On Inc., Bechtel Corporation, and Cives Steel Company. SPEED was recognized with a Boeing Outstanding Educator Award for its exceptional contribution to improving undergraduate engineering education.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University's Design/Build/Fly Team recently returned from a competition where they placed 19th out of 80 teams. Front row: Jacob Miller, Barry Pawlowski and Christopher Tarbell. Back row: Christopher Siegel, Ken Visser (faculty advisor), Paul Iannetta, Jacob Lathrop, Ben Tessler, Brian Bullinger, Christian Richter, Supatpitak "Boom" Nateenond, Joel Ross, and Jamie Donahue.

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