Faculty of Forestry Supports UBC Team to Design Sitka Spruce Aircraft Model for International Competition

UBC Forestry recently joined forces with the UBC Faculty of Applied Science and their UBC AeroDesign (UBCAD) team to provide space for and help design an aircraft model that featured balsa and Sitka spruce wood in one of its fixed wings.

Built for the annual spring SAE Aero Design competition held in the USA, a competition that brings in competitors from all over the world, the team’s Regular Class model featured a wooden spar – the main structural member of a fixed wing.

“The spar is the most important structural element of the wing in that it carries the weight of the wings, for example, while the aircraft is on the ground,” says Simon Jobst, a third-year mechanical engineering student and UBCAD Regular Class Airfoils co-lead.

Centre for Advanced Wood Processing Integral to Project

UBCAD team members standing behind balsa and Sitka spruce aircraft wing

The team utilized UBC Forestry’s Centre for Advanced Wood Processing (CAWP) in three unique ways. Jobst explains that CAWP allowed them to use their lab space, contributed sponsored technician hours to UBCAD’s project by aiding in the fabrication of the spar, and also offered the team tours of their facilities.

“It was so helpful having CAWP be a part of this project in such a big way,” says Jobst. “The team was given a chance to gain practical, hands-on learning toward a sustainable aerospace engineering solution that promotes preparation for future careers.”

Second-year biomedical engineering student and Regular Class Airfoils co-lead Thenushaa Balasingam was part of the team and was very impressed with what she learned at CAWP.

“I am incredibly grateful to have attended one of the tours provided by UBC CAWP. It was eye-opening to see the equipment used first-hand to fabricate the spar for our Regular Class aircraft,” says Balasingam.

She says further, “Truth be told, I would not have realized the incredible significance of wood processing and how much room for improvement UBCAD has in this field. We look forward to collaborating with UBC CAWP in 2023 so that our aircraft can excel at the competition.”

UBCAD’s 2023 Regular Class design mission is to design an aircraft that can lift as much weight, in the form of payload plates, as required while maximizing wingspan (up to 18 feet), adds Jobst. UBCAD receives further sponsorship from local BC forest companies including CarlWood Lumber Limited, which sponsors BC-grown Sitka spruce, and DWB Consulting Services Ltd., which holds Platinum sponsorship with the team.

About UBC AeroDesign

UBC AeroDesign (UBCAD) is a local undergraduate engineering student design team based at UBC’s Vancouver campus. Established in 1992, the team is operated by 50+ undergraduate students from six different engineering disciplines and 11 countries around the world.

Each year, UBCAD designs, manufactures, and tests multiple electric-powered, fixed-wing, remote-controlled aircraft to compete in the annual SAE Aero Design competition, specifically in the Regular and Advanced Class design categories.

To learn more about UBC AeroDesign or to support their projects, visit their website to access information on their past designs, social media, and more.

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