by Steven Mackay, Virginia Tech College of Engineering
May 6, 2015, BLACKSBURG, VIRGINIA — Remotely-piloted vehicles designed, 3-D printed, and built by 12 student teams drove and flew their way through obstacle courses at Virginia Tech’s Rector Field House on May 1 at the second annual Additive Vehicle Design Competition.
Up for grabs was $15,000 in cash prizes.
The main sponsor: The Office of the U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. The mission: Spur designs that could allow future deployed military or civilian engineers to fabricate remotely-piloted vehicles while in battlefield or austere environmental conditions, such as the site of a natural disaster or to carry out reconnaissance missions.
Now in its second year, event organizers Christopher Williams and Al Wicks, associate professors with the Department of Mechanical Engineering, raised the competition stakes by having students build single vehicles that can alternately operate in ground and air mode. Last year, vehicles only had to fly or drive.
“Overall, the day was a terrific success,” said Williams. “The students were faced with the tremendous challenge of designing, fabricating, and piloting a 3-D Printed vehicle that could traverse both ground and air obstacles.”
This year, 12 teams made it to the finale. Eleven of the teams were from across Virginia Tech with members ranging from first-year undergraduates to doctoral students, with the final team coming from the U.S. Air Force Academy. Only two of the 12 teams’ vehicles successfully navigated all obstacles.
Winners for the May 1 event were:
First Place Overall: Team Seas. Charlie Tenney and Callie Zawaski, both master’s students, and Du Minzhen, a freshmen, all in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Prize: $4,000
Second Place Overall: Best Undergraduate Team Award, and Best Air Performance: Team Trans-Siberian Pilots. Josh Brandman and Grady Wagner, both juniors in the Department of Mechanical Engineering; Todd Spurgeon, a senior in mechanical engineering; Brandon Hart, a junior in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics; and Abraham Shipley, a sophomore with the Department of Physics, part of the College of Science. Total prizes: $4,100
Third Place Overall and Best Ground Performance: Team Mekatron: Jason Tolley, a sophomore with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering; and Christopher Brittain, a sophomore with the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Total prizes: $2,550
Judge’s Award: Team Frith Lab. Scott Ziv and Joseph Lottery, both sophomores in the Department of Mechanical Engineering; Steven Yu, a sophomore in the Department of Engineering Education; Ilya Pozdneev, a freshmen in the Department of Engineering Education; and Beichen Liu, Bobby Smith, Steven Roberts, Alexandra Ringer, Ce Zhang, Youming Qin, and Charles Milares. Total prize: $550
Virginia Tech College of Engineering
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Blacksburg, Va. 24061
Phone: (540) 231-4787
Top photo: A ground/air vehicle built by students within the Virginia Tech Frith Freshmen Design Laboratory was one of the more colorful on display. (Photo courtesy of Steven Mackay/Virginia Tech)