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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M’s Harmony Team develops personal flying machine for Boeing’s GoFly Prize Competition

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Photo by Olivia Treadwell

Texas A&M Aerospace Engineering’s Harmony Team is the only student group competing against professionals and companies in Boeing’s GoFly Prize Competition. 

A group of Texas A&M engineers have built an aerial vehicle to compete in the Boeing’s GoFly Prize Competition.
After Boeing announced the GoFly Prize competition, competing teams submitted their version of a personal aerial vehicle for a chance to win $2 million in total prizes over three phases of the competition. Phase one was based on blueprints and paper technical submissions, where 10 prizes of $20,000 were awarded. A&M’s Team Harmony has advanced to Phase two of the competition, along with four other teams, to compete for five prizes of $50,000. At the end of the competition, the Final Fly-Off will give the remaining teams a chance to win the Grand Prize of $1 million.
Competition requirements say that the vehicle must be able to transport a single person at least 20 miles, cannot exceed a length of 8.7 feet and cannot be louder than 87 decibels. In Phase II, the teams have to test a prototype of their models with all these restrictions in order to prove that it can be safely operated.
Assistant Professor of Aerospace Moble Benedict assembled Team Harmony from his class of graduate students in January 2018.
“First of all, this is not a student competition,” Benedict said. “This is a professional competition because if you look at the other three teams, they are not students, they are start-up companies. So, I think this is a great recognition for Texas A&M University and this will put us down on the map when it comes to electric emission.”
Advancing this far in such an esteemed competition will bring many opportunities to both the team members and A&M itself, according to aerospace engineering graduate student and the electric and business lead of the team Farid Saemi.
“I think if A&M wins this we could really put A&M on the map for the new field of what’s called EVTAL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing),” Saemi said. “That’s something that all aerospace companies, obviously Boeing and GoFly, but also new aerospace companies like Uber, want to be a part of, like with Urban Air Mobility [such as] air taxis, and cargo delivery with Amazon. So, we want to put A&M on the map for that.”
Carl Runco, public relations and controls engineer for Team Harmony and aerospace engineering graduate student, said winning the $1 million prize money for the second phase of the competition will go toward creating a start-up for their vehicle and commercializing their invention.
“Several of the students, including myself, have expressed an interest in actually just making this a full time job going forward,” Runco said. “The company is trying to commercialize this because if we win it’s obviously got great potential.”
Due to the GoFly Prize Competition, Team Harmony has the opportunity to be at the forefront of new technology and a budding industry.
“I think it shows that A&M is not afraid to innovate,” Runco said. “We have got an environment where people are willing to take risks and take chances, and A&M is leading the push into technology. What we’re building at A&M in our labs is going to change and impact the world in meaningful ways.”

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