Aerospace engineering team places in international design competition

KENNESAW, Ga. | Sep 13, 2017

Award is a first for the University

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics has announced that a trio of Kennesaw State University students placed second in its Spring 2017 Aircraft Design Competition.

Austin Collett, Shawn Sinclair and Matthew Salter were recognized last month for their submission into the multi-mission amphibious aircraft category with the design SCS-527, or “Sea Duck.” Collett and Sinclair are pursuing aerospace engineering minors in KSU’s Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology. Salter graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Aircraft design competition

The award marks the first time the University has finished among the top three in the competition.

The annual competition is judged by a panel of industry experts and academics, and teams are awarded points for technical content, organization and presentation, originality and practical application of the concept. Divisions in this year’s event included designs for aircraft, engines, space and space transportation.

Teams presented their concepts much like industry professionals by issuing a report in response to a request for proposal, said Adeel Khalid, the team’s advisor and an associate professor of systems engineering. The students relied on their studies in aerospace to guide them through the phases of the project, which included preliminary weight calculations, design layout and performance verification.

Their submission began as a senior design project that is required for all students pursing the aerospace engineering minor, Khalid said. It was later formatted to meet AIAA standards prior to the competition.

“I was really impressed with this team because they came in the first day confident that they could compete and win,” Khalid said, adding that the team researched previous entries in order to adopt designs they thought could be improved upon. “It’s one thing to learn a concept and pass an exam. It’s another thing to actually build something new.”

Sea Duck, designed to take off and land on water, was conceptualized to satisfy three missions put forth by the AIAA, the first of which requires the “flying boat” to carry at least 20 passengers and travel a range of 1,000 nautical miles. The second mission required the aircraft to transport 5,000 pounds of payload 500 nautical miles, and the last was a maritime mission that called for a payload of 3,000 pounds with a 10-hour loiter.

Submissions were collected in the spring, and winners were announced in late August. The students earned $250 and certificates for their efforts.

The Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology at Kennesaw State University is the second largest engineering college in Georgia, serving more than 4,000 students. The College offers 20 undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering and engineering technology led by industry-expert faculty in the university’s state-of-the-art facilities.

The aerospace engineering minor is designed to provide students with the skills to develop a practical and analytical approach to problem-solving that will allow them to address a range of challenges in the field.

– Travis Highfield

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit