Momentum - November 2020 - 8

experience to bring to the larger Regular
Class team. The Micro Class of SAE Aero
Design allowed for this, as the aircraft is
much smaller. The primary goal was not
to aim for the podium; it was to learn.
Winning became secondary.
The Shakespearean flaw of the plan
is how extraordinarily daunting it is to
dive cold turkey into a real engineering
project. I recall wanting to fold myself
away and slip into a dark abyss during
our first XFLR5 workshop, an
aerodynamics analysis software,
because I felt like I would never make it
through the project. I had yet to learn
many of the aerodynamics concepts,
and the technical terms sounded like
gibberish, but I knew they were an
essential contributor to our success. The
enormity of the project overwhelmed
me in that moment...and many moments
later. The team was extremely
supportive, and our wonderful mentor
would sit with me in the evenings and
re-explain concepts until I understood.
We often forget how overwhelming the
first steps are, and how that might scare
away many bright students, so it is
essential we support them.
I was captain of the fourth cohort of
the Micro Class team, which was made
up entirely of first-year students...myself
included. In four years of using the Micro
Class team as a training program, the
members of Avion Cargo have observed
that there are three important lessons
that new engineering students need to
learn if they are going to be valuable
members of your team one day. How
you teach them these lessons is up to
you, but we believe they are best
learned from experience.
First is learning the interdependent
dynamic of an engineering team and
respecting the spiderweb-like network.
From group work sessions to
exchanging results with other
departments, the group dynamic is
likely the biggest influence on the
resulting project. While intuitive to those
who have worked in big teams
previously, teamwork is a learned
concept for so many students who have
not had that opportunity before. The
newer members are eager to prove
themselves and often need guidance on

8 November 2020

A defining challenge of the SAE Aero Design Micro Class was to fit the aircraft parts and the cargo into
a box of limited (set) dimensions.
how to find their place or how to solve a
problem in a group. While the mentor
will provide guidance, it can be
frustrating at first-with all the avoidable
mistakes made from
miscommunication-but students
quickly learn the value of proper
An example of this was the moment
my friends and I realized we were not a
group of nine individuals, but a team.
We were deciding how we were going
to assemble our wings, as they were in
pieces to fit into the box-a constraint of
the Micro Class. We spent far too long
arguing over which was the lesser evil
between two bad options-a 3D-printed
clip or magnets, both too heavy-when
another student came over and
suggested tape. We were embarrassed
when we realized how childish we were,
wasting time arguing instead of thinking
of a better option.
Second is learning the art of when to
take risks. Risk taking is to be
encouraged, but knowing how to assess
risks and when to dive forward is key. It
is a double-edged sword: daring actions
can be greatly rewarding but a
misjudgment can send you back to
square one. Teaching the tools for trade
studies is one side of the coin; the other
is proper decision making.

Here, the 2020 Micro Class plane was
the prime example. We had the option
of building off the previous two years'
work in a standard configuration, or a
clean sheet with a flying wing
configuration. We decided to make a
flying wing and develop the tools for
upcoming years. We later learned the
standard configuration was better
geared towards the challenge. We
struggled to make all the dimensions fit
within the box because of the large
aspect ratio, which was necessary to
create enough lift. Consequently, we lost
3 points in the SAE Aero Design
Assembly Demonstration event due to
an overindulgence in parts. Where the
previous years' plane only needed slight
optimization, we started from scratch.
While the flying wing was a wonderful
airplane, and developing the new
configuration opens many doors in the
future, the scope of the project was
larger than we anticipated. The lesson
was learned, and now we understand
how to be intelligent risk-takers.
Finally, and most importantly:
learning how to learn like an engineer.
While school provides the basic skillsets,
we need to teach the new students how
to properly use them. This one is also
the most difficult to teach because it
takes the gentle hand to say "tape is



Momentum - November 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Momentum - November 2020

Momentum - November 2020
Questioning the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” cliche
Michigan Baja Racing goes 4WD
A testimony to experiential learning
One-on-One Liam MacGillivray
Talking chassis
2021 ID.4 is Volkswagen’s first U.S.-market dedicated EV
UX designers and “engineering chefs” cook up unique user interfaces
SAE 101: student engagement
Be an optimist and an opportunist
Dossier: Madeline Corrigan of Northwestern University
Momentum - November 2020 - Momentum - November 2020
Momentum - November 2020 - Cover2
Momentum - November 2020 - 1
Momentum - November 2020 - Questioning the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” cliche
Momentum - November 2020 - BENEFITS U
Momentum - November 2020 - Michigan Baja Racing goes 4WD
Momentum - November 2020 - 5
Momentum - November 2020 - 6
Momentum - November 2020 - A testimony to experiential learning
Momentum - November 2020 - 8
Momentum - November 2020 - 9
Momentum - November 2020 - One-on-One Liam MacGillivray
Momentum - November 2020 - 11
Momentum - November 2020 - Talking chassis
Momentum - November 2020 - 13
Momentum - November 2020 - 14
Momentum - November 2020 - BRIEFS
Momentum - November 2020 - 2021 ID.4 is Volkswagen’s first U.S.-market dedicated EV
Momentum - November 2020 - UX designers and “engineering chefs” cook up unique user interfaces
Momentum - November 2020 - SAE 101: student engagement
Momentum - November 2020 - Be an optimist and an opportunist
Momentum - November 2020 - Dossier: Madeline Corrigan of Northwestern University
Momentum - November 2020 - Cover3
Momentum - November 2020 - Cover4