On Saturday, May 14, 2016, several members of the Russellville High School aerospace class traveled to the Lake Cumberland Regional Airport in Somerset, Kentucky, to participate in the National Air & Space Education Institute’s annual aerospace competition day. After many months of work in preparation for the event, RHS took second place in the National Wing Design Competition. In order to participate in the competition (an aerospace engineering event), students had to design, fabricate, and demonstrate the flight capabilities of a model aircraft wing. They also submitted a design report detailing their wing parameter design, manufacturing plan and processes, and testing plan. RHS received the highest overall score for their design report.
The goal of the wing design contest was to design and build a high-performance wing that demonstrated a balance between practical, affordable manufacturing techniques and good flight characteristics. When mounted to fuselage supplied to participating high schools through the NASEI program, each team’s wing had to be able to carry a diverse array of non-uniform payloads at a distance from the center of gravity of the aircraft.
Around 45 high schools throughout Kentucky and Tennessee participate in the NASEI program, a four-year aerospace program featuring hands-on application combined with an intense college-ready STEM curriculum. Russellville High School joined the NASEI program in the fall of 2013. The class is currently facilitated by Mr. Scott Blackerby. Students attending the competition in Somerset included Bryce Bollenbecker, Kobe Kerr, Dillion Porter, Milam Watkins, and Phillip Wilkerson.
The NASEI aerospace program is important to Kentucky high school students because aerospace manufacturing is among the leading industries in the state, accounting for nearly $8 billion in exports in 2014. According to Census Bureau reports, Kentucky’s aerospace parts and products industry now represents about one-fourth of the state total exports, and that figure is expect to grow steadily over the next several years.