A team of automotive engineers build an airplane from scratch
The Society of Automotive Engineers, also known as the SAE on campus, has four different divisions.
I interviewed three people from the Aero division: co-captain, Kenny Kritch, and two other members, Alex Buss and William Shaker.
According to Kritch, “Aero members build an airplane from scratch. We all do our own calculations, design and model the airplane and build it out of plywood and aluminum and fly it competitively.
In this competition, they try to make the plane carry as much weight as possible, fly it around a runway and land it.
The Aero division starts building an aircraft from scratch at the start of the year and flies it at an event with other teams at the end of each year. Club members do this on their own, alongside the school and other commitments they might have.
Asked about stress and management, Buss replied, “In terms of schooling, I try to do it on the day I get it so that the class is still fresh in my head. So I just try not to procrastinate and get things done so that I have time to relax and do the Aero.
Buss decided to join this club because he is passionate about it and has been flying for almost a decade now. With “video games, there’s not much you can do before you’re bored.” Meanwhile, with this club, you can be more practical and it’s more fun, and besides, we have to go through the whole design process instead of having prefabricated parts. There is also a physical risk to this. If the plane crashes, we have to rebuild it instead of going back to the last quick save or something.
Shaker was asked what he liked most about the club and his response was, “We work as a team and design and build things, which is cool.”
The club is based on teamwork, problem solving and the development of new strategies and designs to overcome any problems that arise.
Shaker chose SAE’s Aero division because “It’s an interesting subject. It’s just easier to be in the smaller SAE division than a bigger one with more people making more decisions.
Besides having to build an airplane from scratch, club members also have challenges other than the airplane building issues that arise.
According to Kritch, one of the biggest challenges the club has faced in the past is not having enough new members. “This problem has continued this year although we have a lot of new people. But it affects us because all the experienced people are now graduates. So a lot of our knowledge in the club is gone so a lot of us had to learn what we could by finding what we could.
“But I feel like we’re getting away with this because a lot of people who came this year already had experience with airplanes… I feel like we are understaffed.”
Another challenge they are currently facing is how they are going to maintain sufficient thrust with the current engine they have on the plane. Without sufficient thrust, the aircraft will not have enough speed to generate lift. These issues are dealt with as best as possible.
As with any club on a college campus, there are challenges they must overcome.