Category Archives: Student Writer

2012 AIAA Design/Build/Fly Competition

This past weekend, I was able to see the culmination of two semesters’ worth of work put into an aircraft design for the AIAA Design/Build/Fly (DBF) competition.

Every year, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) holds a competition where university teams from around the country and the world get the opportunity to design an RC airplane that can meet three specific mission requirements that are set by the competition planning members. This year’s three mission requirements included:

  • Mission 1: Fly 1,000 foot lap rotations and determine how many can be flown within 4 minutes.
  • Mission 2: Take a 3.75 pound payload of aluminum bars and successfully fly three lap rotations within 4 minutes.
  • Mission 3: Design a mechanism to release 2 liters of water after the plane successfully reaches 100 meters.

I took DBF to fulfill my senior design requirements, but also because I had garnered an interest in it after my two friends (now roommates) had talked about their experiences with the team last year. I had been looking for an opportunity to get experience with going through the entire design cycle of an aircraft, and DBF was exactly that.

The competition this year was held out in Wichita, KS, from April 13th to April 15th, so last Thursday 26 members of the DBF team took a nice 12-hour drive all the way out there. The competition is co-sponsored by Cessna and Raytheon (Cessna’s HQ is in Wichita, and Raytheon’s is in Tuscon, AZ) and the competition location rotates in between the two.

Even though the forecast called for thunderstorms all three days of the competition, the first day turned out to be absolutely beautiful. It was partly cloudy, low winds, and a really comfortable temperature out at the Cessna airfield, where the competition was held. It was also pretty cool, because the airfield is located next to McConnell Air Force Base, home to one of the country’s largest refueling fleets of KC-135s. So all throughout the day, the tankers were doing practice landing runs, and this became a pretty regular site:

Wichita also houses a former Boeing facility, and we got to see a Boeing Dreamlifter (one of 4 planes that was constructed to transport parts for the Boeing 787) make a landing at McConnell as well.

As interesting as seeing the planes land over at the AFB was, the opportunity to see all of these other teams from other engineering schools and their airplane designs was also really neat as well. There were 69 teams in total that entered the competition, but about 60 that actually showed up on-site for flights. Here is a picture of us with our plane:

There’s me on the left, with Lee, the pilot, in the middle, and Jason, the team leader, on the right. The plane itself was constructed using balsa wood and some carbon fiber elements as well. Our plane successfully completed Mission 1 and 2 on the first and second day of the competition. However, on the night of the second day (April 14th) an intense storm system brought a number of tornadoes to the region, including an F4 tornado that struck about 8 miles away from our hotel. The aftermath of the weather left multiple downed power lines that blocked off access to the Cessna airfield, and the DBF competition officials had to cancel the rest of the competition.

We drove back home all day yesterday, and although it wasn’t the best of endings to the competition, it was still a really great experience to go out there, see how our design compared with everyone else’s, and appreciate the engineering talents that all of the schools brought out to the competition.

Whoa, where did the semester go?

Just a few months ago, I was packing up all my things into my Corolla (a feat of engineering in and of itself) and driving eighteen hours to get to Houston.  Now, I’m starting to look around my room in Houston and go “How on Earth am I going to get all of this back to Indiana?”  While my friends at Purdue are all starting to study for finals, I’m wrapping up things at work and only have another week left (and only one more paycheck coming).  As an engineer, I like lists, so I’ve broken down my experience into the best parts and the worst parts of being on co-op.

The Best Things:

1. The Work –  I’ve had an opportunity to learn a lot about both the company I work for and a branch of engineering (technical sales) that I’ve never seen before.
2. The Food – This is entirely subjective, but TexMex and Texan BBQ are some of the best cuisines out there and having it at least once a week is pretty awesome.
3. The Weather –  It started off really hot (Over two straight weeks of 100 degree weather), but the temperate finally moderated and I haven’t had to worry about snow at all this semester.
4.  The Work (Redux) – Or lack thereof.  My job doesn’t have homework.  No late nights of working or studying for me.

The Worst Things: (Which Really Aren’t All That Bad)

1. The Social Aspect – In this age of Facebook/Twitter/G+, it’s easy to keep up to date with what is going on with your friends.  This is kind of a double edged sword though, as (at least my friends’) posts are always about the best things that are going on at school.  You start to miss school.
2.  Missing Football Season – We beat Ohio State.  Again.  We rushed the field. Again.  And again, I wasn’t on campus.  Eventually I’ll be around for Purdue pulling off a huge upset in football.

Actually, the worst things hardly qualify as needing a list…I am looking forward to a change of scenery and being back on campus in January.  Just in time for Big Ten basketball season.  Boiler Up!

A Trip to Kansas City

Hey everone,

One of my goals for this semester was to find an internship that would expand my experience in Software Engineering. I went to Purdue’s Industrial Roundtable, which is the largest student run job fair in the nation, and talked to as many software engineering firms as I could. I had the opportunity to talk to companies such as Microsoft, Lexmark, IBM, Garmin, Amazon, Lutron, and many more.

3 weeks later, I was offered the opportunity the fly out to Olathe, Kansas(a suburb of Kansas City) to visit the campus of Garmin International. It was an absolutely amazing experience! We were able to learn about all the different sectors of their company and how I could fit in as an intern. We also were given the chance to network with many of the engineers there while hanging out at Dave and Busters. So basically, I got to play video games with a group of Engineers! On the final day, we had two 30-minute interviews as well as a few more presentations. A week later, I was offered a position as a software engineering intern for next summer!

My trip to KC was an absolutely amazing experience! I was able to meet a lot of students from Purdue who were also applying there, many of whom may end up there this summer as well. I know that I wouldn’t have had such an amazing experience without Purdue. Purdue has provided me with so many opportunities to grow and succeed, and I am so thankful for that!

Women In Engineering Program (WIEP) Event

Last night I helped run a booth for PSEF at a Women in Engineering (WIEP) event.There was a great turn out and girls asked a ton of great questions so I thought I’d blog about a few of the frequent questions girls asked last night. I often got, are the classes really as scary as people make them out to be? You will often hear that first year engineering is just one huge weed out process, but I have found that as long as you keep up with your work, you’ll do just fine. It’s true that you know longer have your parents there to remind you to do your homework, but chances are that if you’re interested in Purdue Engineering, they probably don’t have to anyway.

I also got asked about whether or not they they had to know what type of engineering they wanted to go into before they got here.  All first year engineers start off as just that, First-Year Engineers (FYE’s). You don’t declare which school you want to be in until sophomore year. All FYE’s are required to take an engineering class that allows them to be exposed to all the different types of engineering disciplines. For example my engineering class is visited by at least two professional schools a week. They come into our class, give us a presentation trying to sell us their school, and then they are there to answer any school specific questions we may have. It’s nice because I came in thinking I wanted biomedical engineering but then learned that biological engineering was more what I wanted. Now I’m even thinking Industrial Engineering, something I didn’t even know what it was until the schools representatives came into my Engineering 131 class.

One last common question was about learning communities. I am in the Women in Engineering learning community and I take the Women in Enigneering Seminar. There is an application for learning communities on your myPortal account (what you used to apply to Purdue). Purdue offers many learning communities, some require you to live with the other members and some require you to take classes. Women in Engineering is a residency hall program that allows me to live with just other women engineers. It’s kind of nice because if I have a homework question, I can just walk down the hall and knock on doors until I find someone who can help me, because we’re all taking virtually the same classes. Another popular learning community is EPICS. This is another residency program where you live with other engineers in EPICS. You also take classes with them and work on a real world project. Many students who do EPICS put it down as real work experience on their resumes because they are projects that are actually implemented by the companies who hire Purdue’s EPICS program.

There are so many great things about being a Purdue Engineer. I never visited campus before I came here, I just knew what high regards Purdue Engineers were held in and knew I wanted it for myself. That’s not to say you shouldn’t visit, everyone should come get a tour of the engineering campus from PSEF! If you’re interested, you can even shadow one of us to our classes. :)

My Job

One of the reasons I chose Purdue was the professional practice program.  Every February, over a hundred companies come to Purdue to recruit for freshman and sophomores in engineering to fill roles as co-op students for the next two/three years.  You alternate back and forth between school and work each semester and summer, earning money while getting valuable work experience.

As part of my job this semester, I’ve gotten to work with GE in Houston.  To better understand how our products work in the field, some people from my engineering team and I went to visit a drilling rig to see the field application of one of our engines.  Learned a lot, even if the rig manager gave me a hard time for being an intern.

Our products in the fieldFor perspective, I’m 5’8″.  The engine is about 8′ tall and ~30′ long.   Runs off of natural gas and is one of the most efficient on the market (Can you tell I work with Sales and Marketing a lot?)

Hello Guys!

My name is Molly Chamberlin and I am a First Year Engineer looking to go into Biological Engineering. I didn’t always know I wanted to come to Purdue.  After my junior year in high school I visited many schools, none of which were Purdue. I’m from South Bend Indiana (around Notre Dame) and the one thing I “knew” for sure was that I wanted to go out of state for college.  Every school I visited had something about it that I liked, and as application time rolled around, I was still completely undecided about where I wanted to end up. This was very frustrating for me, because I had been planning college since sixth grade when I picked up my first “college guide.” So I decided to think about where I wanted to end up, then how I wanted to get there.

I’ve always been drawn to math and science, so in high school I took a lot of those classes.  I knew I wanted to work with cells and genetics in my future so I tried to find majors that could help me do that.  I realized that I had been overlooking Purdue’s engineering program, and not giving it a chance, just because it was close to my hometown. I never visited Purdue; I applied, got in, and signed up for STAR (the freshman scheduling day over the summer).  I was so sure that Purdue’s engineering program was exactly what I needed and wanted to succeed that I didn’t hesitate to come here. I wanted an environment that would push my abilities to their full potential and to be around students who felt the same.

Since I’ve been here I have not regretted my decision.  There is always something to do; whether it is homework or a student organization.  At the beginning of the year I wanted to join the sailing team, Adopt-a-Grandparent, Circle-K, Timmy Health Foundation, Run Club and many other organizations.  There is just so much to choose from.  In the end I chose to joined PSEF (Purdue’s Student Engineering Foundation) and APO (Alpha Phi Omega), which is a service fraternity. Both of these organizations are like family. Between gaining a mentor in PSEF, go Dennis, and “parents” in APO, there are always upper classmen I can talk to if I need help.

I look forward to sharing more about my experiences here at Purdue later, but until then, Boiler Up!

Molly

Let Me Introduce Myself…

My name is Adam Potrzebowski and I am one of the student writers that the Recruitment team has chosen to write about my experiences as an engineering student at Purdue.  As a sophomore in mechanical engineering, I’d like to be able to relate some of my experiences as a student.

Originally, I am from a small town, Westville, in northern Indiana.  My dad is a Purdue alum and I grew up rooting for the Old Gold and Black.   My sister graduated from Purdue a few years ago in ME.  When I began looking at colleges, there was just a little pressure to go to Purdue. As I thought more about my academic and professional goals, I realized that Purdue was an even better fit than I thought.  As a renowned engineering school, Purdue had opportunities that few other schools could offer.  As a large state school, it had tons of resources, sports, and a lot of new people to meet.  By the time I got to my senior year, I had decided that Purdue was the best choice.

Having now completed my first year, I can definitely say that my experience here has been memorable.  Academics aside, I’ve been fortunate in my involvement on campus.  I’m currently in the Purdue Student Engineering Foundation (PSEF) who are the student recruitment side for engineering.  We give a lot of tours and help outreach in other ways as well (like this blog).  I’m also active in the Professional Practice Ambassadors and the basketball student section, the Paint Crew.

Unlike the other student writers, I am actually not on campus this semester.  I’m participating in the professional practice program.  In this program, I alternate between semesters at school and semesters at work.  The work is paid and provides invaluable work experience.  Currently, I’m living in Houston, TX while working for General Electric.  So far, I really enjoy my job (and the paycheck), but I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss Purdue and the fall in West Lafayette.  Over the next few months, I’ll try to post more about my co-op and what kind of work I’m doing.  Until then, Boiler Up!