Kathy Barnstorff
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.

Beth Dickey
Headquarters, Washington
RELEASE : 10-035
Students Apply Science and Imagination to Design Tilt-Rotor Aircraft
WASHINGTON -- Some helicopters of the future will look very different from today's machines, at least as imagined by high school students for a NASA aeronautics competition.

NASA challenged students to write a paper about a civilian aircraft that could rescue up to 50 survivors in the event of a natural disaster, hover to help rescue missions, land on ground or water, travel 920 miles, and cruise at speeds up to 345 miles an hour. And if that wasn't enough of a challenge the amphibious tilt-rotor vehicle had to be able to fight fires by siphoning water into an internal tank, then dumping it once airborne.

The competition was sponsored by the Subsonic Rotary Wing Project within the Fundamental Aeronautics Program of NASA's Aeronautics Mission Directorate in Washington.

More than 100 teens from the United States and six other countries - Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Romania, Singapore, and Turkey - entered the contest, in teams or as individuals. Along with the students who described the usefulness of the amphibious tilt-rotor in rescue operations, a few offered their ideas for designing one.

Susan Gorton, principal investigator of the Subsonic Rotary Wing Project, led the review panel. She said reading the high school papers showed her how students perceive the future of aviation and NASA's leadership role. "They think anything can be done--and that's refreshing," said Gorton.

The most striking design looks like a flying wing with rotor assemblies on top of the nose and between two tail fins.

The top scoring team entry came from two students at Norfolk Technical Center in Norfolk, Va. Seniors Edric San Miguel and Vito Morlino offered a design called the "Versatile Emergency Landing Aircraft." This is the third year in a row that San Miguel has placed in an aeronautics student contest and the second time he has won first prize. Thomas Melanson, a freshman from Hilton Head Island High School in Hilton Head, S.C., submitted the top scoring individual entry titled "An Angel in the Sky."

The second and third place U.S. teams were from Linwood Holton Governor's School in Abingdon, Va. Seniors Craig Copeland and Jordan Gibson came in second and juniors John Angles and Dakota Helmandollar took third place.

The second place individual award went to Andrew Andraka, a junior at Bishop Hendricken High School, North Kingstown, R.I. Sharing third place for individual entries were sophomore Darby Young, from Young Academy, Sidney, Neb., and sophomore Khadija Razzaq also from Virginia's Linwood Holton Governor's School.

A trio of eleventh graders from Chung International Secondary School in Hong Kong took top international honors. With their novel design called "Fly Fish,' Tsz Hin Chung, Mei Kwan Lai, and Man Hoi Wong showcased a heavy lift vehicle. Eleventh grader Luca Iliesiu and twelfth grader Andrei Ciupan from Tudor Vianu National High School of Computer Science, Bucharest, Romania earned the second place award for international teams. Three tenth graders, Botu Alexandru, Adam Vlad and Sebastian Muraru, also from Tudor Vianu High School, won third place.

Finally, Shubham Kaushal, a twelfth grade student from Anderson Junior College in Singapore, earned the top score for individuals in the international category with his design titled "Salvager-7 Pelican."

NASA hopes to interest students in pursuing careers in aeronautics and engineering by sponsoring design contests. U.S. winners receive cash awards from Christopher Newport University through a NASA education grant and cooperative agreement. International winners receive a trophy and certificate of achievement. All student participants receive a certificate of participation and a letter from NASA commending them for their work and encouraging them to continue their study of math, science and engineering.

To read more about the competition and to see some of the rotorcraft designs, visit:

For more about other NASA programs, visit:

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