BurroWorks team members

BurroWorks members (L to R) Sam Drescher, Jacob Wilson, Spencer Connor, and Dominic Pena ’16 proudly display the team’s aircraft. (Credit: Deirdre O. Keating)

Each August, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) releases the new challenge for that year’s Design/Build/Fly competition, in which students design, fabricate, and demonstrate the flight capabilities of a radio-controlled aircraft. This year, a group of Mines students was
selected from 143 applicants as one of the 93 competing teams.

The 18-student team, called BurroWorks, progressed through various stages to participate in the final competition in Wichita, Kansas, on April 15-17, 2016. Using the computer-modeling program SolidWorks, the students designed two planes: one with a 60-inch wingspan made of carbon
fiber and one with a 50-inch wingspan fabricated from foam. Teams were judged on the design, manufacturing, and flight capabilities of their unmanned, electric-powered, radio-controlled aircrafts.

The Mines team finished in 19th place, edging out some big-name teams that have attended the competition for years. “We were ecstatic to finish as well as we did our first year,” said team member Dominic Pena ’16. “We placed higher than all the other Colorado schools—even out-of-state schools with strong aerospace programs like MIT, Purdue, and Berkeley. Just imagine what we could accomplish with more funding.”

Next year’s AIAA competition will be held in Tucson, Arizona. The BurroWorks team plans to build on their initial success for an even stronger performance in 2017. To learn more about the team’s journey and the AIAA competition, visit minesnewsroom.com/news/