A research foundation for club success

Takahashi doesn’t only advise the Air Devils student organization. He also mentors students in flight-related research through the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative, known as FURI.

“I augment club activities with specifically targeted FURI projects, which gather fundamental data useful in the execution of any particular design,” he said. “The FURI projects helped train students to do some pretty sophisticated testing and get a good practical database of how off-the-shelf motors and building materials work in the real world.”

In the last few years, five Air Devils team members have worked on FURI projects.

Aerospace engineering senior Max Stauffer studied how to measure the thrust of an engine from in-flight instrumentation.

Another aerospace engineering senior Kevin O’Brien learned how to build an airplane that is stable in smooth and turbulent air by refining aerodynamic configuration.

Ivan Pesqueira, a mechanical engineering senior, conducted an experiment to test the strength of carbon fiber tubes for supporting unmanned aircraft.

Aerospace engineering graduate student Jack Griffin researched computational methods for structural design as a senior undergraduate student.

And Nitish Chennjou, a computer science sophomore, developed a flight instrumentation system.

“With five independent FURI projects working the fundamentals, the team really did a great job putting a design together, harmoniously merging aerodynamics, propulsion and structural design in an absolutely crazy environment,” Takahashi said.

With FURI projects spanning the academic terms in 2020 and spring 2021, and facing social distancing conditions, it was a difficult time to be working on research and their competition aircraft.

“Nitish was remote in California and would regularly mail his custom-designed electronics circuits and embedded controllers to and from the teams,” Takahashi said. “Even the Arizona-based team was not physically co-located.”

Past Air Devils president Nikolay Kolesov, an aerospace engineering major who graduated in 2019 and is now pursuing an aerospace engineering master’s degree at Georgia Technical Institute, built tools for modeling an aircraft wing structure that was the basis for the 2020–2021 design.

“These FURI projects of the past become footstones to a successful design, allowing us to build on prior arts,” Griffin said.

With this behind-the-scenes work through other Fulton Schools programs, Takahashi says he can run the Air Devils organization “as a coach with a light touch” and credits team president Kosednar for leading the team to success during the pandemic.

Monique Clement

Lead communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering