UBC engineering students’ aircraft model features BC wood in international competition

Research Excellence | Strategy 8: Student Research
Theme: Innovation
Following successful test flights in BC, UBC AeroDesign competed at SAE Aero Design East in May 2022, placing second in design report and oral presentation, with renewed determination to soar even higher next year | Photo credit: UBC AeroDesign

UBC AeroDesign students are showcasing hometown pride with their use of BC wood in their newest competitive aircraft models. Each year, international competitors gather at the SAE Aero Design Competition in the US, to pit their fixed-wing, electrical-powered, remote-controlled aircraft against each other in specific design challenges.

Built for the 2022 Regular Class design challenge, UBC AeroDesign’s model features balsa and BC-grown Sitka spruce in its fixed wing. “The spar is the most important structural element of the wing as it carries the weight of the wings,” said Vincent Liu, UBC AeroDesign team captain and a fourth-year mechanical engineering student. “Sitka spruce is light, strong and flexible, which makes it an ideal material for this challenge.”

“With family roots in the BC forest industry, I am so proud to see this team incorporate local Sitka spruce products so close to home in our aircraft,” said Simon Jobst, UBC AeroDesign Regular Class Airfoils co-lead and a third-year mechanical engineering student.

UBC AeroDesign is one of over 30 engineering student design teams on UBC’s Vancouver campus. Established in 1992, the team is operated by more than 50 undergraduate students from six engineering disciplines and 11 countries around the world.

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Through Strategy 8: Student Research, UBC is expanding opportunities for undergraduates to gain first-hand experience in research and is strengthening research experiences for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.