AUC students top finalists in international competition

Published July 28th, 2009 - 08:49 GMT

AUC students top finalists in international competition


The innovative design of a bird-like air vehicle that both flaps and folds its wings paved the way for a group of undergraduate students from the American University in Cairo to be among the top four finalists in the Student Mechanism and Robot Design Competition organized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). ASME Student Mechanism and Robot Design Competition is a highly recognized student competition that is sponsored annually by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, in conjunction with the annual ASME Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference.

The students from AUC are enrolled in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the join student teams are from the University of California, Berkeley; Pennsylvania State University and the National University of Singapore.
The AUC student project is a "flap and fold" mechanism to drive the wings of an ornithopter. According to Mustafa Arafa, associate professor of mechanical engineering at AUC, Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) are expected to play a major role in future surveillance and reconnaissance missions. "These remote-controlled MAVs will be designed to be stealthy and highly maneuverable for operations in constrained spaces," Arafa said. "Ornithopters also offer greater possibilities for miniaturization and maneuverability in the field than their fixed-wing or rotary-wing MAV cousins. The drive-mechanism is a critical part of the MAV design because it transfers the power from the motor to the flapping wings."

Arafa, who recently received the Egyptian National Award in Engineering Sciences, has provided extensive support and encouragement to the student team to enter the competition. "My students have always been a constant source of inspiration to me and they continue to enlighten my world. For this competition, I am honored to have these three talented young men represent us in front of the whole world," Arafa added.

As finalists, the students will prepare a poster - to be viewed by the judges and conference attendees - and a 15-minute presentation describing their design.

They also plan to take their project further and apply it on a larger scale and actually make it fly. "There are certain challenges to this project, which include having a practical design that can be manufactured easily, to have a single degree of freedom, to control the pitch angle through the design, and to reach a mechanism that controls the flap within certain angle," Ahmed Talaat, one of the team members, said. His fellow team members are Mohamed Nasr and Mohamed Hassan.

The final round of the competition will take place at the 2009 ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conference in San Diego, California from August 30 to September 2, 2009.

The American University in Cairo (AUC) was founded 90 years ago and is a major contributor to the social, political and cultural life of the Arab Region.  It is a vital bridge between the East and West, linking Egypt and the region to the world through scholarly research, partnerships with academic and research institutions, and study abroad programs. An independent, nonprofit, apolitical, non-sectarian and equal opportunity institution, AUC is fully accredited in Egypt and the United States.

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