TSU Engineering Students Receive praise for design of Transport Vehicle for Military Special Operations Forces

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Students from TSU’s College of Engineering were praised recently for their design of a special transport vehicle for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Forces.

They were among students from nine other institutions who competed in the annual University Design Challenge last month at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Nine students and their advisers from the TSU College of Engineering participate in the 2017 Annual University Design Challenge at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, Tennessee. (Submitted photo)

The three-day competition, organized by the Air Force Research Laboratory, brings together different student teams from around the country to compete for top honors in a task assigned by the AFRL.

Teams were given two semesters to develop, design and build a prototype of their project for the competition that ended April 13.

The physical and mental stress of carrying heavy loads causes significant performance degradation and injury during training and while conducting military operations, according to AFRL officials.

During these missions, operators typically carry more than 100 pounds of gear, and require resupply of mission gear and equipment.

This year, the teams were to design a resupply device that operates manually, or autonomously programmed or controlled, to haul items on rough and unimproved surfaces. The device must be able to carry a minimum 350 pounds of gear, traveling two miles at a speed of 3-25 miles per hour without refueling. It must also be able to traverse narrow paths, climb steps, and navigate over rocks and log gaps.

The TSU student team designed, built and demonstrated an autonomous vehicle that met the required specifications.

“We were really happy with our performance,” said TSU team-member Charles McFadden, a mechanical engineering major, who graduated May 6. “Our team put in a lot of work. It turned out probably better than we thought we could do in that short period of time and the resources given to us.”

He said judges were very happy with the TSU design, calling their team “the best they have had from TSU.”

Dr. Landon Onyebueke, professor of mechanical engineering at Tennessee State, was one of the faculty advisers on the TSU team. He said the students’ performance was above average.

“The project actually was very good for the students,” Onyebueke said. “The design performed very well. They put a lot into it. It was a very good practice for the students.”

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of TSU’s College of Engineering, said the college has maintained a strong partnership with AFRL for more than 20 years that offers internships and helps TSU students conduct major research.

“We remain committed to this partnership and appreciate the support from AFRL, Clarkson Aerospace, and other partners in preparing our engineers for the workforce,” Hargrove said.

Other members of the TSU team were: Antony Currie, electrical engineering; Kevin Scott, electrical engineering; Larry Perdue, electrical engineering; Donald Toohey, mechanical engineering; Michael Winters, mechanical engineering; William Sanders, computer science; Ryan Brisentine, computer science; and Danielle Haik, computer science.

Dr. Fenghui Yao, professor of computer science, was the other TSU student adviser.

Department of Media Relations

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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.