UA freshmen engineer a legacy


UA students in the IDEAs program inflated their blimp for the first time on Oct. 16. These blimp designers are, from left to right in the front row: Diamond Betton, Lauren Thompson, Tayler LeGrair, Devonte Murphy, Calvin Carter, Paul Brown, Eric Leaks and Andrew Bangachon. Back row, from left: Dr. Julie Zhao, Alonzo McMillon, Elijah Beach, Aisha Brown, Leonard Oden, Leanna Sherman, Da’Quan Muhammad and Isaiah Williams. Not pictured: Donovan Partee.

In the process of designing a service-learning project this month, University of Akron engineering students may have also created a legacy for themselves when they built a miniature blimp for the Summit County Historical Society. The society has decided to make the blimp available as a learning tool for local K-12 students, lighter-than-air flight enthusiasts and other visitors to its Copley Road headquarters in Akron for years to come.
The 16 students, who take part in UA’s Increasing Diversity in Engineering Academics (IDEAs) program in the College of Engineering, teamed up to complete the project and received critical hands-on engineering training to boot. The IDEAs program focuses on academic, professional and personal growth.

Big lesson on a small scale

The students created the 20-foot-long, 5-foot-wide, 6-foot-high blimp, which is a tenth of the size of the iconic Goodyear blimp. They designed, engineered and tested the blimp during six classroom hours. The project was fashioned to show the future engineers how their chosen field works on a small scale as well as to create bonds and lessons in teamwork.  
"The blimp assignment is meant to show the students what engineering is all about, and give them hands on experience in the field," says Julie Zhao, IDEAs program director. "We hope the students will create connections they can carry throughout their academic careers here at UA.”
The blimp took flight from UA to its permanent Summit County Historical Society home at 550 Copley Road in Akron in mid-October.

 Story by Nikita Lero

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