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The Battalion

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

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Winging it

If you’re an aerospace engineering major, you may be familiar with the senior capstone project, where groups of students are given two semesters, one to design and one to build, their choice of a plane, rocket or satellite. Though this project is one most seniors anticipate, for seven sophomore aerospace engineering majors, the project could not come soon enough.
In August, junior aerospace engineering major Anton Kolomiets read about an international aerospace competition run by the Society of Automotive Engineers that would take place April 3.
The competition involved designing and building a plane able to take off in 200 feet, hold at least seven pounds and meet size requirements. The team also had to create a 30-page design report and presentation that will be judged along with the actual performance flight of the plane.
With registration just around the corner, Kolomiets began talking with some of his classmates about forming a team and finding a faculty adviser.
“At first we had some skeptics,” Kolomiets said.
The group, sophomores at the time, had a couple of aerospace classes under their belt. For their competitors, who are mostly seniors funded by their university, this was a leg up.
It cost $4,000 in materials, travel expenses, lodging and a basic entrance fee of $450.
The team sent out more than 400 letters requesting donations for the competition.
With a positive response of donations, good luck letters and offers to help, the team met the quota and the game plan became a reality.
The competition is in two parts, Aerospace East and Aerospace West. Each side takes 60 teams from India, Canada, Mexico and College Station, Texas.
To the team’s surprise, they were assigned team No. 12 and are taking it as a sign of the 12th Man.
“If we’re lucky, we’ll start a new tradition of winning,” Kolomiets said.
The team began to meet once a week for a couple of hours with their faculty adviser, Tamas Kalmar-Nagu. According to junior aerospace engineering major and team member Trace Thompson, “Dr. T” acts as a devil’s advocate in that he keeps the team focused and constantly thinking about the goals.
The team soon split into subgroups, each working on different aspects of the designing and building of the plane.
The structures group worked on testing different mixtures of forces while the aerodynamics group focused on the shape of the wings and the dynamics of the plane.
The stability and controls group aimed toward keeping the plane going in the right direction despite opposing forces.
“We had to get the plane to be able to fly really well, really slowly,” Kolomiets said.
Junior aerospace engineering major Greg Kelderman was part of the performance group that analyzed the product and whether it will be able to lift off the ground.
“In the actual competition, it’ll be taking off of a runway at 200 feet above the ground with atmospheric affects from the change in altitude,” Kelderman said.
Most of the plane building was completed over the winter break when the team had the most time to dedicate to the project.
“We would meet for breakfast, work all day and then go home for dinner,” Thompson said.
Working six to seven hours a day, the team built most of the plane, along with a backup wing.
The biggest struggle for the entire team was time management and balancing course and work load while staying on task with the project. Though classes are in session, the team works as often as they can on the project, and seem to have a basic understanding of each other’s needs.
“This thing is a mammoth. It’s hard to imagine if you haven’t experienced it,” Kolomiets said.
A&M’s first aerospace team is prepared to enter this competition and take as much as they can away from it.
“This is putting our knowledge and textbooks to use. I’m not just writing stuff on paper. This is kind of our baby,” said Thompson.
The year-long project has brought the entire department together.
“We’ve been asked to give presentations to freshman classes and at A&M Consolidated,” Kolomiets said.
With the competition on the way, Thompson said the team prepares for a win or an amazing experience and opportunity.
“I’m taking away life-long friends and if we get a trophy, well, that would be awesome, too,” Thompson said.
The team said they hope they will become a University-recognized program and the team will be kept alive past the competition.
“I would love to come back and see the 10th annual aerodesign team in years to come,” Thompson said.

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