The Real World Design Challenge team of six students from Baldwin High School in Baldwin, KS, was selected last month as the national winner of the annual Real World Design Challenge, sponsored by our Federal Aviation Administration.
The Baldwin students won for designing a light sport aircraft that maximizes fuel efficiency even as it enhances performance.
The awards were presented April 21 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Students from Commonwealth Connections Academy in Pennsylvania earned second place honors, and third place went to Rancho High School from Las Vegas.
The winning aircraft was designed by Team Baldwin to accommodate two team members for a flight from Kitty Hawk, NC, to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, at a minimum cruising altitude of 1,000 feet. The team's choice of coordinates was not random: Kitty Hawk is, of course, the site of Orville and Wilbur Wright's historic first flight in 1903, and Dayton is the site of the brothers' bicycle shop, home base for their earliest explorations in aviation.
For today's aviation pioneers from Baldwin, this is the second first-place victory in three years. The team won the national championship in 2010 and placed third in 2011. And I suspect we'll see more innovative design work from the school next year.
A team of engineers from government and industry, including the FAA, NASA, Cessna, and others, designed the challenge program. The FAA's Aviation and Space Education program, in collaboration with Aviation Safety and other offices, coordinated the agency's contest support.
For the challenge, students were paired with professional mentors from the aviation field in the public and private sectors. Together, they worked to design an efficient, low-carbon emission and environmentally friendly personal light sport aircraft. The aircraft was required to accommodate two team members and fly 200 miles in fewer than two hours at a cruise altitude of at least 1,000 feet above ground level.
More than 3,000 students participated in the challenge this year at no cost to themselves or their schools. FAA engineers and volunteers made up 70 percent of the mentors assisting students in the challenge.
Since the challenge began, industry, government, and academic partners have donated more than $1 billion to to help schools compete. That's a terrific service to the schools that participate and to the future of transportation where we hope to see today's student competitors find professional homes.
Many thanks to everyone who supported this Real World Design Challenge, and congratulations to this year's winners!