UC s Aerocats Team Soars at International Design Competition

Each year, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International) holds a design-build-fly competition for undergraduate and graduate college students. The students must create a radio-controlled aircraft that can take off and land while carrying cargo of a certain weight. The competition demonstrates technical skills as well as good teamwork and communication.


The plane is moved into position.

The plane is moved into position.

 According to SAE International, “First and foremost a design competition, students will find themselves performing trade studies and making compromises to arrive at a design solution that will optimally meet the mission requirements while still conforming to the configuration limitations. The importance of interpersonal communication skills is often overlooked by engineers, yet both written and oral communication skills are vital in the engineering workplace. To help teams develop these skills, a high percentage of a team’s score is devoted to the design report and the oral presentation required in the competition.”

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Gentlemen, start your engines.






Coming in for a landing.

Coming in for a landing.

In the flight portion, UC’s Aerocats placed sixth overall and third nationally. The team’s report won first place for Best Report Overall. Their design won fourth place overall. The competition was steep, with teams representing many countries.

Aerocats is a student organization dedicated to aerospace and aircraft. Team members were as follows:

Matt Goettke
Todd Barhorst
John Louis
Patrick Reed
David Chalk
Steve Coppess
Matthew Crummey
Alex Sullivan
Matthew Urbaniak
John Vandenbemden
Kevin Harsley
James Mount

The team after the aircraft meets a tree.

The team after the aircraft meets a tree.

This year’s team was advised by John Livingston of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB). Santiago Panzardi, also of WPAFB, piloted the remote-controlled aircraft.

After the event, Panzardi wrote to Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Department Chair Awatef Hamed to compliment her on the calibre of the UC Aerocats team. Panzardi noted that the entire team … “performed as a unit, showing great enthusiasm at all times.” He specifically cited their teamwork in “assembling, cutting, gluing, repairing, modifying, measuring, holding or carrying the airplane at any given time over the weekend. They made my job as pilot and advisor in hand very easy.”

Panzardi also remarked at how others noticed the excellent teamwork of the UC Aerocats: “I even heard bystanders talk about how well and how hard the team worked at all times. Needless to say, I am extremely proud of every member of the team, and so should be the entire aero engineering faculty.”

He concluded his letter, saying, “It was my pleasure to lead such a great fine group of young engineers.”

See the video!

More about Aerocats

More about UC’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

About SAE

About SAE's Design East

Other competitions sponsored by SAE International

List of registered teams

Most of the Aerocats team, with pilot Panzardi.

Most of the Aerocats team, with pilot Panzardi.

L to R: Santiago Panzardi (RC pilot), Matt Goettke, Alex Sullivan, Dave Chalk, SAE steward, Steve Coppess, John Louis, Kevin Harsley, John Vandenbemden, Todd Barhorst and Matt Crummey 

(All are AsE Class of 2005 except for Matt Crummey, who is a computer engineering major, class of 2005. Crummey's primary role was to implement a sensor package on the aircraft, specifically the angle-of-attack sensor.)

Not pictured (all AsE 2005):
Jimmy Mount
Patrick Reed
Matthew Urbaniak

Advisor John Livingston, WPAFB

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