April 18, 2013

Boeing challenges students to design new cockpit

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Twenty-two engineering students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale have spent all of this academic year preparing for the year 2040.

The students, all of them seniors who are majoring in electrical, computer, or mechanical engineering, are participating in the “Crew Station 2040 Challenge: University Capstone Competition” sponsored by Boeing Military Aircraft.  Their mission: design “the Cockpit of the Future.”

Media Advisory

Members of the media are welcome to visit the future in the E.T. and Katy Simonds Alumni Lounge of the Engineering Building (EGR A-131) at approximately 1 p.m. April 26. That’s when the judging team from Boeing will announce the winner of the “Crew Station 2040 Challenge: University Capstone Competition 2012-2013.”  Two SIU Carbondale engineering student teams spent this academic year preparing physical or virtual designs for a military aircraft “cockpit of the future.”  Reporters, camera crews and photographers will be able to see the designs and talk to students, faculty, and Boeing representatives.  Design reviews are from 1 to 4 p.m. on April 25, and 9 a.m. to noon on April 26.  For more information, contact Frances Harackiewicz, professor of computer and electrical engineering, at 618/536-2364 or franharackiewicz@gmail.com.

The students formed two teams to compete in the multi-step project.  Boeing provided the teams with a set of system design requirements listing essential features, such as laser protection, ingress and egress points, and ergonomic considerations such as comfortable accommodations.  The teams created physical or virtual designs, sent status reports to mentors at Boeing, and prepared a detailed presentation for Boeing judges to review.

Frances Harackiewicz, professor of computer and electrical engineering, said Boeing has sponsored similar design competitions previously, the past two years at military academies.  This is the first year Boeing is sponsoring the competition at SIU Carbondale. 

“The two teams have had to share space and resources on campus, and be in the same class with each other, and yet still maintain a level of secrecy so that neither team knows what the other team is doing,” she said.

Ed Winkler, Boeing Technical Fellow and an SIU alumnus, is heading up the Boeing team mentoring the SIU students.  He has plans for Boeing to sponsor a competition again next year, but with SIU Carbondale taking on Tennessee State University, another university to which Boeing offers its support.

“This sponsored competition is a big deal for us, and for Boeing as well,” Harackiewicz said.  “I think historically, Boeing Company hires more of our engineering majors than any other single company. Their involvement is terrific because they are asking the students to tackle the same types of problems they have been working on for years. It's almost as if these teams have been on a yearlong interview. The judges' grilling of the students on every aspect of their design process makes the students think about where they can improve their work, which will help them no matter where they get hired this year.”

Design reviews are set for 1 to 4 p.m. on April 25, for Team Horus, and 9 a.m. to noon on April 26, for the Flying Pharaohs.  A trophy presentation is set for approximately 1 p.m. on April 26.

Team Horus members are: Fouad Ali, mechanical engineering, Crest Hill; Corey Corbett, electrical engineering, Chicago; Kyle Einecker, computer engineering, Cary; Matthew Geevarghese, computer engineering, Arlington Heights; Azahel Herrera, mechanical engineering, Danville; Landon Kennel, mechanical engineering, Arthur; Nick Musick, electrical engineering, Eureka; Eric Neubert, mechanical engineering, Herrin; Kevin Ortega, mechanical engineering, Glen Ellyn; James Quinn, mechanical engineering, Chicago; and Anthony Seneca, electrical engineering, Peoria.

Flying Pharaohs members are: Michael J. Andersen, mechanical engineering, Villa Park, Rachel Gallagher, mechanical engineering, Morrow, Ohio; Amber Kueker, mechanical engineering, Red Bud; Jonathan Miller, mechanical engineering, Tamaroa; Farron L. Owen II, mechanical engineering, Mt. Vernon; Brandon Richey, electrical engineering, Marion; Robert Smith, computer engineering, Herrin; Ryan Tang, mechanical engineering, Carbondale, Anthony Turner, computer engineering, El Dorado; Justin Wolfe, mechanical engineering, Bloomington; and Harold Wright, electrical engineering, Carbondale