Cal Poly Engineering Teems with Winning Teams in AIAA Aircraft Design Competition

September 14, 2011

Contact: Amy Hewes
Cal Poly Engineering

SAN LUIS OBISPO -  Cal Poly Engineering's Aerospace teams flew circles around the competition in not just one but two design events at the recent American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) student design contest.  

Cal Poly Engineering Teems with Winning Teams in AIAA Aircraft Design Competition

The AIAA Foundation announced Sept. 9 that Cal Poly swept first-, second- and third-place awards in both the Undergraduate Team Aircraft Design Competition and the Graduate Team Aircraft Design Competition.

In the undergraduate contest, for which teams were required to design an innovative heavy-lift hybrid air vehicle, the top prize went to Cal Poly's Mustang Aerospace team. For the graduate student competition, which called for an electrically powered aircraft, Cal Poly's VoltAir team blitzed the competition with "The BLITZ Electric Aircraft." The teams were under the direction of faculty adviser Bruce Wright, joined by Bill Durgin for the graduate competition.

"I think the fact that just five of us were able to design - in detail - nearly every aspect of a radically new airplane in just a matter of months was really the most impressive part of the whole competition," said Matt Handfelt, team lead for the "The BLITZ." "We would definitely like to take the design further someday - once battery technology catches up to where we would like it to be."

Following graduation in June, Handfelt joined Northrop Grumman in San Diego working on an unmanned aircraft.

 For the undergraduate team competition, Cal Poly Aerospace strutted the right stuff as follows:

 ·       First prize, $2,500: Mustang Aerospace for "Pegasus." Amy Kronsteiner, team lead and payload module; David Caudle, propulsion system; Cory Hackett-Robles, solid model and controls; Collin Heller, configuration and aerodynamics/buoyance; Alan L'Esperance, control operations and subsystems; Jason Nguyen, structures and sold model.

 ·       Second prize, $1,500: Central Coast Solutions for "The Eclipse." Daniel Leighton, team lead, structures; Colin Burt, aerodynamics, buoyance; Mark Costa, propulsion, weights; William Howe, controls, ACLS; Hans Mayta, performance, cost; Vanessa Wood, solid modeling, configuration.

 ·       Third prize, $1,000: Swift Lift Aerospace for "SL-1 Leviathan." Kellie Tremaine, team lead, buoyant lift, stability and controls; Jason Cortez, payload module design and materials, structures and weights; Eric Paciano, control operations, subsystems and system engineering; Thomas Price, aerodynamics, alternative fuels and performance; Cory Seubert, configurator, propulsion and solid modeling.

 The lineup of Cal Poly's winning teams and awards for the graduate competition were:

 ·       First prize, $2,500: Team VoltAir for "The BLITZ Electric Aircraft. Matt Handfelt, team lead and performance; Christian Lopez, propulsion and stability and controls; Ryan Mayer, systems and structures; Nick Riccobono, aerodynamics and cost; Brendon Townshend, configuration and solid modeling; and William Durgin, faculty adviser.

 ·       Second prize, $1,500: Team Laminar Flow Aviation for "The EA-Mk1." Mark Anderson, structures and solid model; David Babka, team lead and controls; Ethan Erlhoff, aerodynamics; Ryan Milligan, performance; Nathan Phelps, propulsion; and William Durgin and Bruce Wright, faculty advisers.

 ·       Third prize, $1,000: Team Gorillianaires Aerospace for "The Ultimum."  Derek Goss, propulsion, configuration; Chee-woon Kim, solid modeling; Dorian Pandey, weights and cost; Scott Sawyer, controls and performance; Sean Stewart, structures and configuration; Mathew Thomas, aerodynamics; and William Durgin, faculty adviser. 

 The AIAA is the world's largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession. For more information, visit

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Image caption: "Pegasus," Mustang Aerospace's winning design for an ultra heavy-lift hybrid aircraft.