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Wichita State News
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Marshall Schmidt, mechanical engineering major, is competing in this year's Spirit Global Design Challenge.

College of Engineering, Spirit AeroSystems begin second annual design challenge

Monday, August 03, 2009

Six students from Wichita State University began preparations in July for the second annual Spirit Global Design Challenge.

Adam Brungardt, Shawn Denning, Marshall Schmidt, Tashi Sherpa, Chandresh Zinzuwadia and Chun Chen Teo were chosen from WSU’s College of Engineering to participate in the challenge.

During the pilot year in 2008, four WSU students were chosen along with four students from the University of Manchester in England.

The original intent for the competition was to include four universities from across the world, said Larry Whitman, director of engineering education at WSU.

“But to ensure success we started smaller with a pilot and are continuing to grow,” he said.

For this year’s competition, students from the University Sains Malaysia will join Manchester and WSU in designing a wing to boost the performance of an aircraft.

Spirit AeroSystems’ design coordinators want to build on the success of 2008 and make 2009 better for both the students and the company, Whitman said.

Schmidt, a mechanical engineering major, said the paramount concern of the challenge is to give students a chance to design in industry, but also to work in an international setting.

“This gives a way to broaden horizons, which creates better engineers,” Schmidt said.

Teo, an aerospace engineering major, said companies look for people who can work across cultures.

“As companies are going global … it’s important for their employees from all over the world to communicate and work together effectively,” Teo said.

Teo wanted to be involved with an industry-related project, but he said options are limited for exchange students in Wichita.

“I believe the (Global Design Challenge) is a very good chance for me to gain some industry experience,” he said.

An aerospace engineering major, Brungardt said the challenge of designing new aircraft parts is his favorite aspect of engineering.

“Few students are able to gain practical design knowledge before graduating,” he said. “An opportunity like this helps students achieve their goals sooner.”

Whitman said competitors work on a real-world design project, not a toy or model project. They also experience different cultures in a design context.

“This will help tremendously as the aerospace industry continues to expand globally,” Brungardt said.

Competitors are not walking in to the competition without previous design experience.

Schmidt interns at Hawker Beechcraft, and Brungardt interned at Cessna Aircraft Co. in production support engineering.

In WSU classes, such as Experimental Methods of Aerodynamics, Brungardt said students were able to get “hands-on experience with some really cool testing methods.”

“WSU has the facilities and equipment for aerospace research and excellent faculty,” Teo said.

Competing students will also benefit from adding the challenge to their resume.

“Participating in an event like this gives work-like experience while still attending school,” Brungardt said.

Kevin Brauning and Andrea Chavez from WSU won the 2008 Spirit Global Design Challenge, along with their teammates from Manchester.

With the 2009 challenge focused on wing design and configuration, Whitman said Spirit coordinators are excited about the innovative solutions possible.

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Created on Monday, August 03, 2009; Last modified on Thursday, August 13, 2009