WICHITA, Kan. -The FirePoint Innovations Center at Wichita State University today announced six teams have been selected to compete for up to $35,000 in funding in the first-ever FirePoint C3 Challenge. All six will now move forward to the next phase of the competition, creating a Statement of Work for their project, and then on to Proof of Concept, before ultimately demonstrating their innovations to the U.S. Department of Defense.
The C3 Challenge brings student designers, engineers and innovators together with the U.S. Army and industry partners to converge, collaborate and create advanced technologies to fuel the Army Futures Command's product and workforce development initiatives. The program is designed to surface innovative technologies that support the Army's modernization efforts, fuel development of the Army's next generation of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and build the future STEM talent pipeline for the industry.
The six teams have each submitted design concepts in one of three component areas within a UAV subsystem—either lift, energy or airframe. To ensure teams have the resources to develop Proof of Concepts, FirePoint will provide up to $10,000 for project development to each team.
The participating teams are:
The Buhler High School Science Club in Wichita led by faculty advisor Leonard Miller and student lead Adam Whitney. The team's lift concept leverages the Cartesian diver principle to float a safe, hydrogen-filled envelope, providing whisper-quiet operation with no energy to maintain altitude for the UAV.
Team Innovating Shockers from Wichita State University led by faculty advisor Nathan Smith and student lead Thomas Nguyen. This team's concept combines a conventional wing design with a circular airfoil design to provide UAV lift.
Team Shocker UAVs from Wichita State led by faculty advisor Dr. Brandon Buerge and student lead John Randall. Their concept focuses on leveraging advanced, digital manufacturing methods to construct a next-generation airframe for the UAV.
Team Vol Air from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, led by faculty advisor Dr. Uday Vaidya and student lead Jackson Wilt. This team will demonstrate how a process called compression overmolding with a 3D printed lattice can be used to rapidly build durable carbon fiber airframes with cutting edge bullet resistance for military-grade UAVs.
Team UAH Chargers from the University of Alabama in Huntsville led by faculty advisor Dave Arterburn and student lead Chris Sallis. Their concept for airframe design leverages a closed-cell foam material fabricated on a hot-wire foam cutting machine to quickly manufacture structural components for rapid construction and deployment of on-demand, mission-tailored UAVs.
Pistol Pete's Propulsion Posse from Oklahoma State University led by faculty advisor Dr. Kurt P. Rouser and student lead Cole Replogle. Their proposed propulsion system, called a turboelectric power system, combines battery power with electrical power generated by a gas turbine coupled to an electric generator.
"We're extremely pleased with this crop of competitors and really intrigued by their proposals," said Steve Cyrus, Manager of Technology Collaborations with FirePoint. "We essentially gave them a blue sky mandate—they could propose anything they wanted within those three functional areas—and we're eager to see how these concepts evolve and come together to benefit the Army's technology pipeline."
After the Sub-Section Development phase is complete in March, up to four teams will then be selected to move forward in the competition and begin collaborating remotely on their designs and integration using Dassault Systemes world-class 3D design and modeling platform. They'll also go behind-the-scenes to see the design and production floors in action at the leading companies in American aviation, manufacturing and aerospace and learn first-hand about career opportunities available in these organizations, as well as the Army aviation community.
Ultimately, the teams will collaboratively design and fabricate an integrated working UAV prototype for final presentation to the Army in February 2021. But the real goal of C3 is to develop the STEM workforce of tomorrow by giving students hands-on, real-world experience and networking opportunities in the aerospace industry, while surfacing for the Army the most innovative designs residing in labs around the country.
The C3 Challenge is sponsored by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center (CCDC AvMC), with support from Dassault Systemes and America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.
FirePoint is a partnership between Wichita State University and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, Aviation and Missile Center (CCDC AvMC) that accelerates joint technology development, transfer and commercialization among CCDC, universities, industry and other government organizations. FirePoint aims to support the educational, commercial and workforce development necessary to drive innovation and collaboration across the key Army modernization priorities. The C3 Challenge, along with other FirePoint initiatives, support collaboration, partnering, and STEM workforce development to ensure modern Army combat readiness and overmatch in the multidomain battlespace. For more information, visit www.firepoint.info.