Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Look Back and Forward...

Now that I am almost 5 months out of school, I feel that I can look back on the whole experience with fresh, almost adult, and unstressed eyes. While in the meat of the work it was hard to realize how the things I was designing, analyzing, and reporting about might translate to real-world projects. And even now, I think a lot of the stuff I did in college was just a way to teach me to problem solve, not necessarily tackle real issues.

However, a recent article on NASA.gov made me look at my final, senior design project in a whole new light. And since I didn't tell you much about it before, I will share with you now the excitement that was my senior design project.

But before I start bor...I mean, telling you about the project I will tell you a little about the article I read on NASA. The article was detailing the recent testing of the Global Hawk UAV. The Global Hawk is designated as a "High-Altitude, Long Endurance" UAV and on April 24 it proved its endurance by completing it's longest flight yet: a whopping 28 hours aloft! Here is a picture of the Global Hawk.

And what does this have to do with my senior design project you ask? Well, we had to design a High Altitude Long Endurance UAV capable of a 24 hour loiter above a specified target. We also had requirements to take off in a short distance, attain a ceiling altitude of 70,000ft and be able to fit the entire aircraft in a 20' X 5' X 5' shipping container, all while integrating complex surveillance equipment such as a SAR and FLIR. Oh, and I forgot to mention the hardest part of the whole thing: we had 4 ASU students, and 6 international students located in India and Singapore.

We called our aircraft the Chameleon for it's seemingly never-ending design changes. And it looked something like this:




It may look slightly different than the Global Hawk, simply because of some design requirements and restrictions we had, but really the two aircraft are more similar than they are different.

I designed the turboprop engines used for the Chameleon. Here's a close-up:

And here is a breakdown of the major components the Chameleon was equipped with, many are the same or similar to the equipment used on the Global Hawk.
And finally, remember that shipping container I was telling you about? Well, here is proof that our design actually fit inside!


So, what is the whole point of this blogpost? Well, it is really just for me to feel better about the ungodly amount of hours I spent working on this project, and the hassle of putting up with India and Singapore (haha, but seriously, that part suuuuccckkkeeedddd). But more than that, I am excited that something I did in college actually relates to the real world. As far as work goes, I am still learning what was, and wasn't important from college. Even tonight on the way to dinner Jeff and I were regurgitating Bernoulli's pressure and velocity equation (it's kinda fun to do that sometimes ;-)).