STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State's unmanned aerial systems team landed in the top ten during recent international competition.
The university's Team Xipiter finished 10th overall out of 26 student groups that were able to fly during the two-day Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's student challenge in Maryland. The 24-member team also finished sixth in flight and 10th in the journal paper and readiness review presentation.
This year's participants were required to design and build a UAS that could be piloted to an unattended ground station and connect to an antenna to retrieve a data transmission. The aircraft also would need to capture aerial images and relay the files back to the ground station for team members to identify specific targets.
"The most impressive thing for us was that we were able to fly exactly where we wanted despite the high wind," said team leader Jared Gates of Caledonia.
"A lot of teams either weren't able to fly or actually crashed," the senior aerospace engineering major added.
Gates credited the MSU team's sturdy airframe construction for its ability to withstand 20 mph winds, though this wasn't the only difficulty.
A glitch in a data connection on the first day of the competition forced a team timeout. Happily, members quickly identified the problem, fixed the connection and prepared for flight the following day.
While the timeout cost valuable mission time and points, the new imaging capabilities of the aircraft--formally, the Xawk 5 SN 002--helped team members recover more easily.
"The biggest advance from last year's aircraft to this year's is our imagery subsystem," explained Jeffrey Morris of Gulfport. "We switched from recording aerial video to taking high resolution photographs."
Morris, a junior computer science major and team surveillance leader, said that, with high-resolution, wide-field-of-view images, the MSU students were able to identify targets that might not have seen with the previous system. Among them was a one-by-two-foot target spotted in an image taken from 750 feet above ground level, he added.
The leaders say the group already is looking forward to next year's competition. To that end, it currently is seeking new members to add to its rank from engineering majors at all levels of academic class and major. (For more, visit http://xipiter.org/interest/ or www.xipiter.org.)
Other team members included [by hometown]:
AMORY--Joseph Brown, a sophomore in aerospace engineering.
BRANDON--Rachel McFalls, a senior aerospace engineering major.
CANTON--Cody Jennings, a sophomore aerospace engineering major.
CARRIERE--Chance Crook, a sophomore mechanical engineering major.
COLLIERVILLE, Tenn.--Airframe lead Tony Favaloro, a senior aerospace engineering major.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.--Jacob Bassett, a senior electrical engineering major.
FRENCHTOWN, Mont.--Adam Rhodes, a sophomore mechanical engineering major.
GRENADA--Leeanna Meadows, a sophomore aerospace engineering major.
GULFPORT--Nick Jones, a sophomore electrical engineering major.
JACKSON--Andrew Hammond , a junior aerospace engineering major.
JONESBORO, Ark.--Adam Mattes, a sophomore aerospace engineering major.
KOSCIUSKO--David Cain, a freshman aerospace engineering major.
LONG BEACH--Ryan Nazaretian, a senior computer engineering major.
MCKINNEY, Texas--Avionics leader William Delcambre, a mechanical engineering major.
MEMPHIS, Tenn.--Ben Nesbit , a senior aerospace engineering major.
NEW ORLEANS, La.--Eric Robertson , a senior aerospace engineering major.
RANDOLPH--Alex Hoing, a sophomore mechanical engineering major.
SAUCIER--Brett Fore, a junior aerospace engineering major.
OCEAN SPRINGS--Seniors Austin Powell, an aerospace engineering major, and Matthew Wilson, an industrial engineering major.
STERLINGTON, La.--Team administrator Eric Hill, a senior industrial engineering major.
SUWANEE, Ga.--Melanie Shumock, a junior aerospace engineering major.
For more information about Mississippi State University, see www.msstate.edu.