Engineering students take fifth in international competition

Oklahoma Christian students placed fifth in the SAE Aero Design Competition. Submitted photo.

Oklahoma Christian students placed fifth in the SAE Aero Design Competition. Submitted photo.

Oklahoma Christian University mechanical engineering students return from international SAE Design competition with a prestigious fifth place finish.

The Society of Automotive Engineers Aero Design (SAE) competition is held annually, allowing mechanical engineering students from all over the world to compete with aircrafts designed and constructed by the students.

Mechanical engineering Professor Bradley Buxton has mentored Oklahoma Christian’s engineering team for the past three years.

This year’s team finished fifth place on the written assessment, second place on the oral presentation and sixth place in the flying category. These placings caused the team to rank fifth out of the 34 participating teams.

Buxton said he believes the reason the students did so well this year in the competition was due to their hard work as a team.

“Their work ethic really set them apart,” Buxton said. “They really formed into a productive team. They all really filled in their roles nicely, and they all worked really hard. Each student found their niche and they filled it, and that’s what makes a really good team — good chemistry and everyone finds what they can contribute.”

Buxton said he has high hopes for these students after graduation as they find professional careers in engineering.

“They’re all going to do really well,” Buxton said. “I think they are all going to succeed in the working world. With the work ethic they showed and the success that they showed, they can put this competition in a resume. It looks really good. I think they’ll all be able to do what they want in life if they just work at it.”

Jordan Van Buskirk worked on the landing gear as well as helped design and build the body of the aircraft. According to Van Buskirk, the team went into the competition well prepared and confident.

“We flew over 20 times before competition, which I don’t know if any of the other teams could have said that,” Van Buskirk said. “So we knew what our plane was capable of. We knew that we were going to be able to succeed. We felt that way because of how much we had to prepare for it. The team itself is really excited and really pleased about placing fifth. We went in and met our goals and expectations.”

The technical team lead Joshua Hartman said he feels satisfied knowing the team’s hard work paid off.

“There’s a sense of accomplishment because we were successful,” Hartman said. “Going from paper and math to actually designing it and building it — that was just fantastic. It was great getting to feel like we actually accomplished something, not just doing math for no reason. It actually worked.”

Hartman said the team is now spending the rest of its final semester helping the juniors prepare so they are ready for competition next year.

“We’re still working on it right now even though the semester is coming to an end,” Hartman said. “We are helping the juniors who are going into the same competition for next year. We are passing along all of our knowledge to them so they can be just as successful and, hopefully, even more successful than we were at competition. If they are able to put in the effort and be hard working, I think they’ll do well.”

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