Press Releases

Alfred University engineering students excel at Design Build Fly competition in Arizona

Alfred University | 4/17/19

Alfred University engineering students at the Design Build Fly competition in Arizona.
Alfred University engineering students at the Design Build Fly competition in Arizona.

A group of Alfred University engineering students took part in a competition last week in which participants tested model aircrafts they had designed and constructed.


ALFRED, NY – A group of Alfred University engineering students took part in a competition last week in which participants tested model aircrafts they had designed and constructed.

The Alfred University team, named “Aerosaxon,” competed in the Textron Aviation/Raytheon Missile System Student Design Build Fly (DBF) competition. The international competition, sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) was held April 11-14 in Tuscon, AZ. Alfred University, which had a team entered in the event for just the second time, placed 11th out of 104 entrants.

The competition required student teams to design, fabricate and demonstrate the flight capabilities of an unmanned, electric-powered, radio-controlled aircraft. Teams were required to use their aircraft to complete various missions developed by the AIAA Foundation, Textron Aviation and Raytheon Missile Systems. The contest aims to provide real-world aircraft design experience for engineering students by giving them an opportunity to validate their analytic studies.

Eleven mechanical engineering students comprised Alfred University’s team. Aaron Smith, senior from Woodstock, CT, served as pilot and along with Ryan Fordham, senior from Canandaigua, NY, served as team leaders. Other team members were Gabriel Smith, senior from Campbell, NY; Richard Berger, senior from New Paltz, NY; David Gong, senior from New York City; Cullen McDowell, senior from Jamestown, NY; Ladji Timite, junior from the Bronx, NY; Justin Smith, junior from Woodstock, CT; Justin Jarmer, first-year from Flagstaff, AZ; Timothy Mahany, junior from Orchard Park, NY; and Daniel Napolitano, junior from Williamsburg, VA.

“We missed top 10, but I believe this is huge achievement as we were competing against some large, major schools,” said Seong-Jin Lee, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, who supervised Alfred University team entered in the competition.

The entire Aerosaxon team travelled to Arizona for the DBF competition, with team members raising funds to pay for the trip and for materials needed to build the airplane. Micron Industries of Rochester donated $1,000 and Marshall Boxes of Rochester built and donated a customized crate used to transport the airplane from Alfred to Arizona. Lee offered his appreciation to Gabrielle Gaustad, dean of the Inamori School of Engineering, and W. Richard Stephens, provost, for supporting the students in their endeavor.

Aerosaxon team members pictured above are, front from left: Justin Jarmer, Ryan Fordham, Timothy Mahany and Daniel Napolitano, and, back from left: Gabriel Smith, Richard Berger, David Gong, Cullen McDowell, Ladji Timite, Aaron Smith and Justin Smith.