May 1, 2018
For aerospace engineering seniors, everything builds up to flight day. For their capstone projects, student teams spent hundreds of hours designing, redesigning and constructing a rocket and an airplane that is capable of carrying the rocket as many laps as possible inside the Carrier Dome.
Lea Miller says “Your imagination says you can do one thing, the math says you can do another thing and then manufacturing and putting it all together says something completely different,” said Lea Miller ’18 with a laugh.
On flight day, most teams were still making adjustments right up until it was their turn to take off.
“Definitely wanted to double, triple, quadruple check everything,” said Michael Banks ’18.
For Miller, Banks and Ryan Oddo ’18, the moment of truth came when their plane went into the air.
“When I saw it go level and start to take off, I felt a lot better. It’s just such a satisfying feeling seeing probably 100 plus hours come together and actually fly,” said Oddo.
There are no guarantees on Flight Day.
“Very nervous. You don’t know if it’s going to work or not,” said Ann Marie Karis ’18. “You miss one thing and it’s done.”
Karis and teammate James Grace ‘18 watched their plane crash into the Carrier Dome turf on their first attempt but they had an opportunity to make adjustments and try again.
The plane designed and built by Luke Babich ‘18, Noah Cousineau ‘18 and Kevin Ryan ‘18 ran into trouble while it was still on the ground.
“As we were about to fly our control horn – which makes the plane turn – was completely disconnected,” said Babich.
A few on-field repairs and they were ready for their chance at takeoff. All three watched with broad smiles as their plane circled the dome and came in for a landing.
“To see something perform that you built by yourself, it’s a pretty rewarding design challenge,” said Cousineau.
“It’s a culmination of everything, all the hard work we’ve done for the past four years, the hard work, the sweat the tears, the blood, everything,” said Ryan.
Karis and Grace also made some repairs and then put all of their aerospace engineering skills on the line with a second launch. The audience cheered as their plane successfully flew the length of the dome football field.
“It is gratifying to know it can fly,” said Karis.