A Real Engineering High

Engineering students at the University of Maryland may not walk away with the Sikorsky Prize, but they’re still excited about their accomplishment Thursday.

Their two-year project, Gamera, a human-powered helicopter, appears to have lifted pilot Judy Wexler several inches into the air, the first time a woman has piloted a human-powered helicopter, according to university officials. Officials from the National Aeronautical Association were reviewing video of the attempt as of this blog post to confirm whether she indeed lifted off.

Despite the milestone Thursday, the motivation for the project is the Sikorsky Prize, which awards $250,000 to the person or team who can use a human-powered copter to hover a human pilot three meters in the air for one minute. While that goal is still far off for the team and their machine, Maryland students and faculty alike are excited about their recent achievement.

“Today’s flight of Gamera is a fitting symbol of our excellence in rotorcraft research and education, and our first step toward winning the Sikorsky Prize,” said Darryll Pines, dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering at Maryland on Thursday.

PEmagazine spoke with Brandon Bush, the head graduate student with the project and Pines about the role such projects play in engineering education. Clickhereto hear it.

Published May 13, 2011 by NSPE

Filed under: Education,

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