7 November 2002

PR 02/90

Success for students in NASA-sponsored aviation design competition

A team of students from Loughborough University and Virginia Tech in the USA has been awarded second place in the Technology Innovation category of the prestigious Aircraft Design Competition in the United States. Sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the annual competition seeks to foster student interest in revolutionising general aviation.

The team’s design – the ‘Ikelos’ aircraft – is capable of carrying two people and uses a box-wing configuration, with powerful flaps to allow take-off and landing within 150ft. A Rand-Cam rotary engine is mounted transversely to drive twin ducted fans, which allow for a dramatic reduction in noise compared to current light aircraft. The aircraft is predicted to have a range of 575 miles and to fly at speeds up to 160mph.

The 24-strong design team consisted of an equal number of students from Loughborough’s Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering and Virginia Tech’s Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering. Having spent just two weeks working face to face, the group worked as a virtual team for much of the project, using the internet and video conferencing to conduct meetings – a collaborative practice which is common in the multinational design field of the aerospace industry.

Commenting on the students’ success, Dr Gary Page, from Loughborough’s Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering, said, “The combined UK and US team truly worked as one to create a unique and innovative design and the success is a reflection of their commitment to the project.”

In addition to a cash prize for the students and each of the two academic departments, the team were invited to present their design at the Experimental Aircraft Association meeting in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and to display a 1/10 scale model of their design at NASA.

This is the second time that a collaborative team from Loughborough University and Virginia Tech has won an award at the competition. Two years ago, a ‘roadable’ four-seater light aircraft, which was also capable of driving on the road, was awarded first prize in the Innovative Design category of the competition.


For further information contact:

  • Dr Gary Page, Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering,
    T: 01509 227205, or
  • Hannah Baldwin, Publicity Office, on
    T: 01509 222239, E: H.E.Baldwin@lboro.ac.uk

Notes to editors

1. Further information on the team’s project can be found on their web site at http://www.aoe.vt.edu/design/ikelos/
2. A digital image of ‘Ikelos’ and a photograph of the team with their winning design are above. Other images of the aircraft are also available – please contact the Publicity Office on 01095 222224, for copies.
3. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place Loughborough in the top flight of UK universities, and industry highlights Loughborough in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 30% of the University’s income is for research. The University has been awarded three Queen’s Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; and for pioneering research in optical engineering.




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S.P.Rowbottom@lboro.ac.uk, November 2002 Copyright © Loughborough University Publicity Office. All rights reserved.