AIAA Educator Academy- Plymouth State University
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AIAA Educator Academy- Plymouth State University

25 June 2013
Location: Plymouth, NH
Venue: Plymouth State University


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The Electric Cargo Airplane Challenge
An engaging way to introduce your students to the STEM of aerodynamics. Student teams use the Engineering Design Process to produce an authentic product, in this case a model airplane powered by a small DC motor. The goal is to carry the maximum amount of cargo as the airplane flies around a power pole which supplies electricity and mechanical support via a tether.

Teams of 2 students will use the engineering design process to:

  • Identify the problem and the criteria and constraints
  • Sketch their design to identify span and chord of their wing
  • Build a model or prototype , continuing to refine their design
  • Test their solution with no cargo
  • Test the solution with cargo
  • Refine design to increase performance by modifying the design, designing an entirely new wing, modifying the airplane assembly, changing parts


Students will then compete against each other in classroom setting to further refine their solution. To further challenge students, there is an optional extension activity to have students determine Coefficient of Lift of the airplane when it flies with cargo.