NASA Announces University Student Design Challenge Winners

Press Release From: Glenn Research Center
Posted: Wednesday, May 17, 2017

NASA’s Glenn Research Center has announced the winners of its  first University Student Design Challenge. The first place winner was a team of students from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, Calif. Second place went to a team from The Ohio State University in Columbus.

During the four-month competition, teams of students designed concepts for using aeronautics vehicles as a means to travel within city limits.

“As NASA continues to make flight cleaner, safer and more fuel efficient, it’s important that the nation is developing a future workforce with strong science, technology, engineering and math skills,” said Ruben Del Rosario, director of aeronautics at Glenn. “We value the creative ideas and unique perspectives that students can offer us in overcoming aeronautics challenges.”

The challenge was open to teams of full-time, sophomore through senior undergraduate students in accredited U.S. academic institutions. The teams were composed mostly of students studying science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM), but also included students of economics, marketing and other disciplines.

Finalists from the following schools presented concepts to a panel of NASA experts: Eastern Michigan University, The Ohio State University, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and two teams from North Carolina A&T State University.

Members of the first place team were Donald Edberg (Faculty Advisor), Raghav Handa, Michael Pham, Alex Callahan and Gabriela Lopez of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

The Pomona team developed a fully electric aircraft concept that carries six passengers. The short take-off and landing aircraft concept would operate in the greater Los Angeles area. The judges were impressed by the team’s design process, the detail of the team’s airframe design and the accuracy of the calculations. Judges described the concept as feasible and innovative.

Members of the second place team were Ken Gordon (Faculty Advisor), Brennan Barrington, Dennis Scott, Jake Brandon, Colin Trussa and Austin Petsche of The Ohio State University.

The Ohio students presented a fully electric lighter-than-air concept that would transport 192 passengers to and from Honolulu, Hawaii. Much like a subway, the passenger pod design featured sliding doors for easy boarding. According to the judges, the concept was unique, creative and supported by analyses in all major focus areas.

The first and second place teams are invited to visit Glenn in June for a tour of its facilities and an award ceremony with Glenn leadership.

For more information about Glenn, visit

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