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Virginia Tech Wins 2010 NASA Contest
August 27, 2010

Ten Virginia Tech undergraduate aerospace engineering students recently took the top prize in a NASA aeronautics competition for college students to develop a multipurpose amphibious aircraft.

Pictured is the concept designed by the Virginia Tech aerospace engineering students that won first place in the NASA aeronautics competition.

The engineering students were asked to design a civilian aircraft that could rescue up to 50 survivors in the event of a natural disaster. Their design appeared as a rotorcraft that resembled a catamaran.

The vehicle had to be able to hover to help rescue missions, land on ground or water, travel 920 miles, and cruise at speeds up to 345 miles an hour, according to NASA’s competition rules. The amphibious tilt-rotor vehicle also had to be able to fight fires by siphoning water into an internal tank, then dumping it after airborne.

NASA’s Aeronautics Mission Directorate in Washington sponsored the competition through the Subsonic Rotary Wing Project in its Fundamental Aeronautics Program.

More than 100 college students from the United States, India, the United Kingdom, Canada, Poland, China, and Nigeria entered the contest in teams or as individuals.

A team of 10 graduate students from Georgia Tech and the University of Liverpool in England took second place, and 28 undergraduates from the University of Virginia, placed third.

According to NASA, it sponsored the design contest to interest students in aeronautics and engineering careers. Each winning U.S. team received a cash award and an engraved trophy through a NASA education grant and cooperative agreement. Cash awards ranged from $5,000 for first place to $3,000 for third place. Five of the students from the top U.S. teams also won paid summer internships at NASA.

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