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For Release: August 1, 1997

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(202) 358-1726

Keith Henry
Langley Research Center

Mary Sandy
Virginia Space Grant Consortium

RELEASE NO. 97-080


A student team from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Pennsylvania State University took second place in the 1997 NASA/FAA General Aviation Design Competition. The award was presented today in a special ceremony at the Experimental Aircraft Association's Annual Convention and Fly-In at Oshkosh, Wisc. NASA Administrator Dan Goldin and FAA Acting Administrator Barry L. Valentine presented the awards.

The national competition seeks to involve university student teams from U.S. engineering schools in the revitalization of the general aviation sector. Revitalization goals present open-ended design challenges that stimulate engineering students and provide the basis for a quality educational experience, while helping students understand the economic relevance of general aviation. Teams were asked to address design challenges in one or more of the following technical areas: Integrated cockpit systems; propulsion; noise and emissions; integrated design and manufacturing; aerodynamics; operating infrastructure and new designs such as air-cars. Students may consider designs for an entire aircraft or for a system or subsystem.

The competition, in its third year, allows university students to participate in a major national effort to rebuild the U.S. general aviation sector. For the purpose of the contest, general aviation aircraft are defined as single-pilot, fixed-wing, single-engine, propeller-driven aircraft for 2-6 passengers. Teams of undergraduate and graduate students from U.S. engineering schools work with faculty advisors to address design challenges for a small aircraft transportation system. The competition seeks to raise student awareness of the value of general aviation for business and personal use while promoting an understanding of its economic relevance. NASA and the FAA believe that this kind of competition serves to stimulate breakthroughs in technology and their application in the general aviation market.

The design developed by the Penn State team, dubbed "The Stingray," won praise from the review panel of general aviation experts from industry, government and academia. The panel praised the students' design as well engineered with realistic costing. The team did an excellent job of targeting general aviation revitalization goals. The design focuses on a high-performance aircraft, with a high-power, turbocharged engine and retractable landing gear. A low-wing, pusher configuration is featured and advanced composite materials offer lighter weight and improved aerodynamic efficiency. Crashworthiness, good stall characteristics, structural simplification for ease of manufacturing, and a user-friendly, multifunctional-display cockpit were also hallmarks of the award-winning design.

Dr. Hubert C. "Skip" Smith served as the team's faculty advisor. As the second place winner, team members will share a cash award of $2,000.

The competition is coordinated for NASA and the FAA by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium. Guidelines for the fourth annual competition, to be held during the 1997-1998 academic year, will be available from the Consortium in August at 757/865-0726 or from

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Last Updated August 6, 1997

C. E. Watson


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