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News > Cadets win Boeing design challenge
CEO checks out cockpit
Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space, and Security, checks out the cockpit of the future designed by the Air Force Academy cadets in the background. The Academy's cockpit won the Boeing CrewSystem 2035 design challenge, beating out teams from the U.S. Naval Academy and and the U.S. Military Academy. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Raymond McCoy)
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Cadets win Boeing design challenge

Posted 5/17/2011   Updated 5/17/2011 Email story   Print story


by Leslie Finstein
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

5/17/2011 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- A year of hard work paid off for a team of cadets May 6, when they won the Boeing CrewSystem 2035 challenge.

CrewSystem 2035 was a yearlong design competition sponsored by Boeing. Teams from the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, and the Air Force Academy were tasked to design the cockpit of a future seventh generation fighter aircraft. Each Academy team was provided a set of 13 requirements and $75,000 to guide their efforts. Over the course of a year, students progressed through the conceptual and detailed design phases, culminating in the creation and testing of a full-scale mockup.

"Working on it was both a blessing and a curse," team member Cadet 1st Class Caroline Kurtz, Cadet Squadron 32 said. "It was very interesting to explore all this technology that you've never even thought of or never even seen and then work to figure out how to create the best performance possible."

"The Boeing requirements were very open and let us figure out what we wanted to do in the process, said Cadet 1st Class Ryan Zielinski Cadet Squadron 04, another member of the team. "It was a challenge to define them for ourselves."

According to cadets, the majority of their time was spent in the design phase and the model itself was constructed over the last couple of months.

"This started for me when I was looking for a summer research project as a junior," continued Cadet Zielinski. "That summer we (the cadet team) traveled all over to see what the Air Force is working on in this field. "

Cadets Zielinski and Kurtz agreed that the construction phase was the most fun and really pushed the team to get creative.

"We had to innovate, use coat hangers, rubber bands, hot glue, clay, monitors, and spandex fabric to try to bring our point across because there was no other way to show what we were trying to show," explained Cadet Kurtz.

"It was cool to see how we could represent our ideas with the materials available to us," said Cadet Zielinski.

The Academy ran this competition as a capstone project through the department of Systems Engineering and had a dedicated team of 15 seniors from 6 different majors, with Lt. Col. Carlene Perry, an assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and Leadership, as course director.

"We chose cadets through a careful selection process and thought about what the project would entail and what kind of academic majors would be useful to have on the team," said Colonel Perry. "Then we approached those departments and sold them on the project and asked them to submit their best cadets for the team, and we chose our team from those groups."

After presenting their final design and demonstration to a panel of seven judges from Boeing on May 3, it was announced that the Academy won the competition. The CEO and President of Boeing Defense, Space and Security, Mr. Dennis Muilenburg along with other Boeing executives visited the Academy on May 6 to present a trophy to the team.

"The cadets did a lot of hard work over the past year and today was the icing on the cake," Colonel Perry said.

Next year's competition awaits and the team and the advisor, Maj. Arthur Cartwright, instructor in the Department of Systems Engineering and deputy for this year's winning project, are already assembled and awaiting instructions from Boeing.

Colonel Perry, who retires from the Air Force in June, had this advice for the new team.

"Keep the big picture in mind because it's easy to get focused on the competition, "said Colonel Perry. "Academically, this project is a home run as the students learn critical thinking, teamwork, and how to frame an ill-defined problem, and it all benefits them greatly. "

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