Society of Automotive Engineers: Aero

Team of automotive engineers build an aircraft from the ground up


Society of Automotive Engineers PioneerLink image

The Society of Automotive Engineers, also known as SAE here on campus, has four different divisions. 

I interviewed three people from the Aero division: the co-captain, Kenny Kritch, and two other members, Alex Buss and William Shaker. 

According to Kritch, “The members of Aero build a plane from the ground up. We do all of our own calculations, design and model the aircraft and build it out of plywood and aluminum and fly it in a competition.” 

In this competition, they try to have the plane carry as much weight as possible and fly it around a track and land it.

 The Aero division starts building a plane from scratch at the beginning of the year and flies it in an event with other teams at the end of every year. The club members do this all on their own, alongside school and other any commitments they may have. 

When asked about stress and management, Buss responded, “In terms of schooling, I try and get it done the day I get it so that way the class is still fresh in my head. So, I just try not to procrastinate and get stuff done so that way I have time to relax and do Aero.” 

Buss decided to join this club because he is passionate about it and has been into aviation for nearly a decade now. With “video games you can only do so much before you get bored. Meanwhile, with this club you’re able to be more hands on and that is more fun, and plus, we get to go through the entire design process as opposed to having pre-built parts. There is also a physical risk involved in this. If the plane crashes we have to rebuild it instead of reverting to the last quick-save or something.”

Shaker was asked what he enjoyed most about the club and his response was, “We work as a team and design and build things, which is cool.” 

The club is based around working as a team and problem solving and developing new strategies and designs to overcome the issues that arise. 

Shaker chose Aero division of SAE because “It’s an interesting topic. It’s just easier to be in the smaller SAE division than a larger one with more people making more decisions.” 

On top of having to build an airplane from scratch, the club members also have challenges other than the plane building problems that arise. 

According to Kritch, one of the biggest challenges the club has faced in the past is not having enough new members. “That problem has carried over to this year even though we have a lot of new people. But, it’s affecting us because all of the experienced people have graduated now. So, a lot of our knowledge in the club is gone, so a lot of us had to learn what we could from finding what we could.

“But I feel like we are getting by with that because a lot of the people that came in this year already had experience with airplanes … I feel like we are a little short staffed.” 

Another challenge they are facing now is the question of how they are going to maintain enough thrust with the current motor they have in the plane. Without a sufficient amount of thrust, the plane won’t have enough speed to generate lift. These issues are being navigated as best as possible.

Just as with any club on a college campus, there are challenges that they must overcome.