UM-Flint student engineers compete in global competition

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A gray drone flies underneath a rope held up by two chairs as part of an obstacle course.
The UM-Flint ASME drone flies through an obstacle course during a competition.

The University of Michigan-Flint American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) team is looking to improve on their runner-up finish at a global competition.

ASME is an international, nonprofit, professional engineering organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing, and skill development across all engineering disciplines. As a part of the organization, students get hands-on engineering experience through global competitions. The UM-Flint chapter has been active since Fall 2018 and has 11 active members.

Each spring, the team competes in the IAM3D Engineering Fest, an additive manufacturing competition. As with last year, the Winter 2021 competition involves creating an Unmanned Aerial Race Cargo Vehicle. This vehicle has to pick up a ferromagnetic payload, then maneuver around the course set-up, and drop it off at the payload drop-off location. It then has to do this four more times.

"The goal of the competition is to produce a quick and reliable delivery system. For example, it could be used to deliver medical products easily from one point to another within minutes," said Carl Cornelio, ASME Student Chapter President. "The scoring is based on several aspects, as listed in the competition rules."

Last year, the team came in second place with their drone.

The team performed even better than last year, he said. The submissions for the event, which include a design report and five videos, were due on March 5. The winners of the event will be announced on April 26 at the E-Fest Digital.

This is the third time the team has competed in the IAM3D competition. In 2019, the team designed and created a hovercraft.

Although the competition was moved to a digital version in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UM-Flint team seized on the opportunity. The experience in 2020 helped the team members become more versatile as a club, Cornelio said.

"Overall, it did help us all to become closer to one another, knowing that we can rely on each other to make ends meet at such short notice," he said.

The team used Zoom for meetings this year, and members sometimes met up in the Murchie Science Building to work on their drone and 3D print materials. The team flew the drone in the Recreation Center during off-hours to shoot their competition videos.

"ASME offers students a very application-based experience where students can use the skills they learn in the classroom and apply them to real life to try and win educational competitions," Cornelio said. "A lot of knowledge which is not taught in the classroom is also worth gaining when you take part in ASME.

"I also created a working flying drone this year for my senior design/capstone engineering project with the confidence and skills I picked up from ASME."

Lindsay Knake is the Communications Coordinator for the UM-Flint Division of Student Affairs. Contact her with any questions, comments, or ideas about the DSA newsletter, social media, events, and communications.