Student's "Silent Airliner" Makes a Not-So-Silent Impression
By: Denise Lineberry

Design a small supersonic airliner with a cruise speed of Mach 1.6 to 1.8, a design range of 4,000 nautical miles, a payload of 35-70 passengers, with fuel efficiency of three-passenger-miles per pound of fuel and a takeoff field length of less than 10,000 feet.

And the airliner should produce less noise. Ready? Go.

Edric San-Miguel, a junior from Granby High School in Norfolk did. And out of 60 entries from more than 120 teenagers from eight states and 11 foreign countries, he won in a student competition sponsored by NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program.

High school students could choose from two options in the competition. They could write a research paper to discuss the challenges and solutions of supersonic flight or propose a design for a small supersonic airliner that could enter commercial service in 2020.

Lesa Roe and student Edric San-Miguel.

Langley's Center Director Lesa Roe presents Edric San-Miguel with a plaque to acknowledge his winning design, "The Silent Airliner." Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.

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San-Miguel chose to propose a design. Last year, he entered the contest and finished second in the U.S. student category for his efforts. This year, his design, dubbed "The Silent Airliner," rose to the top of all entries.

“My design was for a supersonic aircraft that can fly faster than the speed of sound, is green to benefit the environment, makes traveling faster and smoother and creates a quiet experience during flight,” San-Miguel said.

Next year, he plans to enter the contest again as a high school senior, and possibly with more aeronautics insight.

San-Miguel visited NASA Langley for a tour of several facilities with a group of 32 students from Granby High School and the NORSTAR program at Norfolk Technical Center, Norfolk Public School System, accompanied by their three teachers of math and physics on Thursday.

Also in the audience were five LARSS students. Actually … make that six.

Liz Ward, from the Aeronautics Research Directorate, became San-Miguel's sponsor, and he was accepted into the Langley Aerospace Summer Scholars Program (LARSS).

“When I learned from his teachers that Edric wanted to work as a NASA engineer one day, I called Mark Moore of the Systems Analysis Branch to see if Edric could work with several other students in the Vehicle Sketch Pad group. I felt it was very important to fan the flame of Edric’s enthusiasm and his exceptional ability,” Ward said.

Moore agreed and San-Miguel will join the group on June 15th as a high school LARSS intern.

Student Edric San-Miguel.

Granby High School student Edric San-Miguel visits NASA Langley's hangar to get a close look at some general aviation planes.Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.

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It will be San-Miguel's first full-time position, and he is eagerly awaiting the opportunity. "I've always wanted to work for NASA," he said. After high school, he hopes to attend Virginia Tech to major in aeronautics and minor in technology.

His drive and efforts have not gone unnoticed. After a tour of several NASA Langley facilities, Langley's Center Director Lesa Roe presented San-Miguel with a plaque. "This is a tremendous accomplishment," Roe said. Also present, were Vicki Crisp, Langley's director of aeronautics, and Peter Coen, principal investigator of the Supersonics Project.

Two of San-Miguel's teachers attended the tour and lunch with him. Joy Young, his teacher at the NORSTAR gifted program, and his math teacher from Granby High School, Kathleen McLaughlin, were part of the visit and witnessed San-Miguel being recognized for his efforts.

Young worked with San Miguel on the design paper and enjoyed learning from him in return. Both teachers agreed that no matter the challenge, "he always perseveres."

"It's not often that you see someone of his age so motivated in a research field," said Young. "He is very driven."

Both were excited that San-Miguel also will get the opportunity to do some hands-on research at Langley this summer through his internship. "This visit has been a great opportunity for all of the students," McLaughlin said.

A group of NASA engineers from four research centers reviewed all the entries. The judges based their scores on how well students focused their papers and how well they addressed four basic criteria: informed content, creativity and imagination, organization and writing.

"All the conceptual designs were imaginative and innovative," said Bob Mack, a veteran supersonics researcher at NASA Langley, who reviewed all the top papers. "The design in the winning paper showed the student had a definite respect and appreciation for technical realities while still being imaginative."

As far as the contest for next year is concerned, there is no way for San-Miguel to place any higher. But his design paper will still have the ability to soar right along with his airliner concepts and his hopes of one day, landing a career at NASA and making his designs come to life.

NASA Langley Research Center
Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
Executive Editor and Responsible NASA Official: H. Keith Henry
Editor and Curator: Denise Lineberry