The Lighter Than Air Competition will take place on Friday, December 9 at 4:00 pm in Howe Hall. In the sixth year of the event, students will race vehicles they have designed around an obstacle course.
Forty-three teams designed aircrafts out of balsa wood that use a large helium balloon and propellers to fly through the air. The teams, which are made up of 5-7 first-year students from AerE 160, have spent much of the semester designing and building their aircraft.
The instructor of the course, Cameron Rayburn, said this is a great first project for students to undertake.
“This competition gives the students an introduction to hands-on learning, which companies are putting much more emphasis on nowadays,” Rayburn said. “Even before we get too heavy-laden with equations, this gets them used to that engineering problem solving way of thinking.”
This year’s theme was a science fiction theme, so many of the designs have a futuristic or space look to them.
The project gives the students a good chance to work in teams for the first time at Iowa State. They also need to put their knowledge of center of gravity and statics to use when creating the aircraft.
Last week, the teams participated in a qualifying round that required them to navigate their vehicle through a tunnel and a hoop high in the air within 15 minutes. 35 teams completed the qualifying round successfully and will participate in the races.
The races are expected to occur into the evening on Friday night and will make for great spectating in the atrium of Howe Hall.