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University of Michigan M-Fly Team
The University of Michigan M-Fly team is a Society of
Automotive Engineers (SAE) Aerospace Design team. The goal of
the team competition is to design, build, and fly a remote
controlled aircraft carrying its maximum payload over a set
course. I am the Research and Development team leader.
The aircraft was designed iteratively; analyzing and optimizing aerodynamics, structures and
controls. Our team chose a high wing monoplane with dragger tail and standard tractor
configuration. A rule change requiring an electrical propulsion system gave my R & D team the
opportunity to research, design and build the new system, balancing motor, battery, and aircraft
weight constraints. Using electrical flight simulation software, key aspects of the propulsion
system were tested and analyzed. Data was then entered into flight performance prediction
software to compare design combinations and assist in predicting flight characteristics and
performance over the entire range of flight.
To determine optimum thrust necessary to carry the heaviest possible payload, Altair INSPIRE
simulation software was used to calculate the optimal thrust curve. Wind tunnel tests were
conducted in the University of Michigan aerospace engineering laboratories to verify thrust
The SAE Aero Design competition considers
communication skills vital in engineering and
requires a formal design report and oral
presentation. M-Fly team leaders presented
its aircraft design to a judging panel. My
section of the presentation (I am on the far
right) focused on my team’s contributions
related to the aircraft aerodynamics,
electronics and landing gear.
M-Fly team members actively participate in
campus events to increase interest in the team
and recruit new members. My efforts in the
Fall semester included speaking with students
about the opportunities to learn and apply
engineering skills to real life engineering