Student aerospace engineers land on top at aero design competition


UA College of Engineering

Members of UA's Aero Design Team are, standing, from left, Mark Lazor (pilot/adviser), Ryan Bieder, Jeremy Hein, Brandon Hein, Evan Henrich, Janelle Archer, Sergey Vorontsov, Elizabeth Hammell, Nataniel Noussias and Michael Hearne. In the front row, from left, are Eric Bohanan, Devin Cross, Ian Maatz, Josh Wilson and Stanley Kaguima.

THE BRIGHT yellow “Thrust Master,” a lightweight, high-payload carrying remote-control plane designed by University of Akron aerospace engineering students, shined overhead in Van Nuys, Calif. where it placed second best overall out of 37 teams that competed in the Society of Automotive Engineers Aero Design competitions April 12-14.

The University of Akron

Thrust Master takes flight.

UA’s team faced an unanticipated challenge and a chance to demonstrate its industriousness during the competition when — after the plane’s second flawless flight — it struck a gopher hole off of the runway, causing severe damage and destroying the entire nose section and half of the fuselage.

“The team spent all day and night repairing the damage. This was truly a Herculean effort,” says team co-captain Ian Maatz, noting that the team repaired more than a month’s worth of work in less than a day.

The University’s Aero Design Team also competed in the micro-class competition where it placed 22nd out of 29. The team’s seven ounce “Roo Shooter,” controlled solely by its tail, was unable to fly in the contest due to technical issues.

Thrust Master was judged on reliability, weight and payload, technical report and presentation.

“This year’s team has had the most exciting and unique ideas to improve the design of the plane,” says co-captain Devin Cross, of the group working on the micro-class plane.

Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or