FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The six members of the Union College team put the final touches on their model airplane during the SAE Aero Design event that took place April 11 through April 13.
The team finagled with the electric motor and made sure the one-horsepower plane was OK to fly.
Then, team advisor Brad Bruno, who has been bringing teams to the SAE Aero Design East for four years, let out a long sigh.
“I said we were not going to use tape this year,” Bruno tells his team.
Bruno, whose New York-based team ended up in eighth place at the SAE Aero Design East 2014 regular competition, said events like this help to prepare teams for the real world.
“Nature is a harsh mistress,” Bruno said. “If they made a mistake, it will show in a big way.”
But even with mistakes, the 75 universities represented and seven countries worldwide dubbed the event “a success.”
The facilities and community were accommodating, from hotels and restaurants to the Forsyth Conference Center and Georgia Model Aviators airfield on Old Federal Road in north Forsyth.
Competitors came from all over the world to the Georgia Model Aviators Club field on Old Federal Road to pit their model plane designs against one another.
Students from Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, India, Poland, Canada, Mexico and the United States researched, designed, built, presented and flew their radio-controlled aircraft.
One of the teams to watch in the competition was the Warsaw University of Technology.
The Polish team is one of the powerhouses in this competition. They were tops in the 2014 SAE West competition in Van Nuys, Calif. There, the Poles won seven out 12 possible awards.
This year, the Polish team finished first in the regular class, second place in the micro class and third place in the advanced class. In all, they won eight awards out of the 13 categories, including a first for the design report.
They began preparing for the 2014 competition with four to five months spent in design. They arrived in Forsyth County a week before the competition to assemble their aircraft and test them.
“In the competition, we have to build our airplanes from scratch,” said team spokeswoman Agnieszka Garstka.
Now the Polish team will take their medals and go on to Washington, D.C., to visit the Smithsonian Aeronautical Museum among other places, and then up to visit the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University in Boston, said Garstka.
David Roberts, the SAE International event producer, said everyone went home a winner for their experiences.
“Each of them have a great story to tell in their next job interview, as the competition was beyond anything found in the classroom or on a college campus,” Roberts said.
One student told Roberts that in his four years of college, SAE Aero Design East 2014 was the best experience he has had.
“That truly made all the effort and hard work worth it,” Roberts said.
From the week of nationwide and international visitors, the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce estimated the economic impact to the area to be around $750,000.
Visit www.gmarc.com for more information.