Teaching Assistant for BioFlight Senior Design Option [2008-10]
After returning from Oxford University where I developed the background knowledge for bird flight and bioinspired engineering, my adviser and I successfully created a new senior design course. During the first two years, I would act as a sort of consultant; offering both advice on bird flight mechanics and guidance in learning the design process, which is the main goal of senior design.
In 2008/09 the students decided to explore the perching maneuver that almost all birds utilize for landing. They designed and built a benchtop prototype that could transform it's wingshape into the 'M-shaped' planform. Additionally, instead of using servos to control the ailerons, they employed shape memory alloy (SMA) wire, to mimic muscles.
In 2009/10, the seniors sought to mimic the primary feathers of a bird, which can have various sweep and can passively twist to have a lower angle of attack than the proximal portion of the wing. This allows main wing to stall for large drag while keeping the tips unstalled and controllable, providing roll control during an extreme pitch-up maneuver such as landing. They also explored a high degree of freedom tail in order to eliminate the vertical stabilizer.
Both years, the seniors placed 1st in the student regional AIAA design competition.