Vaughn College’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Team Take First Place in the Sixth Annual Micro Air Vehicle Competition

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Vaughn College’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) team finished in first place in the 2018 American Helicopter Society Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) competition.

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"The team, being highly motivated by competing against other top universities, was successfully able to overcome problems and win the challenge,” said Utsav Shah ’18, Vaughn College UAV club president.

Vaughn College’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) team finished in first place in the 2018 American Helicopter Society Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) competition. The 11-member team went against competitors from Penn State and the University of Maryland to take the win in the sixth annual MAV student challenge held at the Phoenix Convention Center on May 14, 2018.

The competition began in January when teams produce and submit supporting documentation and then videos of the UAVs in action, with an updated proposal due in March, leading to the finalist selection in April before being invited to compete in Arizona in May. “This is a very thorough and arduous competition,” said Dr. Hossein Rahemi, chair of Vaughn College’s engineering and technology department. “Vaughn’s UAV team is very committed and does an incredible job at competing and we congratulate them for their success as champions.”

Vaughn’s UAV team developed two drones to compete in both the manual and autonomous categories. Both drones were designed to perform vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) with onboard flight-stabilization and camera. For both the autonomous and manual challenges, a drone carrying a package was expected to take off from a base station, move around an obstacle and drop off a package on a pre-identified delivery station; then takeoff from the delivery station and land on the pickup station to gather a second package; and then finally fly back to the base station to land and deliver that package.

More than half of the team members stem from Vaughn’s mechatronic engineering program and are able to utilize their classroom learnings for real-world application in the design and building of the UAVs for the team’s success. Vaughn College actively supports engagement opportunities for students and student clubs to participate in national competitions such as the MAV challenge. The clubs’ participation in this competition was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Hispanic-Serving Institution Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Title III grants, and student engagement funding Vaughn alumni and industry council members.

Among the participating teams, Vaughn’s UAV team and only one other team were able to complete the remotely-operated tasks within the 10-minute time limit. Vaughn’s remote-control team completed three flawless successful runs. Judges from the aerospace industry evaluated the teams’ performance for both the remote and autonomous control categories and awarded Vaughn’s UAV team the highest score in both categories winning the “Best Remotely-Controlled Target Search” and “Honorable Mention” awards with a total prize award of $3,000.

Vaughn’s UAV team has been participating in this competition since the beginning and consistently improving with each competition. The team is dedicated to educating the public about the positive use of UAV worldwide, including the increasing use for package delivery, mapping and many other applications.

“This competition was very challenging, but the team work and coordination among our members made it fun,” said Utsav Shah ’18, UAV club president. “The most difficult task was that the navigation was performed in an indoor environment compared to an outdoor environment. The team, being highly motivated by competing against other top universities, was successfully able to overcome problems and win the challenge.”

About Vaughn
Founded in 1932, Vaughn College is a private, nonprofit, four-year college that enrolls more than 1,500 students in master’s, bachelor’s and associate degree programs in engineering, technology, management and aviation on its main campus in New York City and online. The student-faculty ratio of 14 to 1 ensures a highly personalized learning environment. Ninety-seven percent of Vaughn College graduates are placed in professional positions, 82 percent in their field of study, or choose to continue their education within one year of graduation. They work in 20 countries and all 50 states. The institution serves many first-generation college students and is recognized by the US Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. For more information, visit http://www.vaughn.edu.

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Maureen Kiggins
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