Research & Education

Aviation art attack

BEST (Board of European Students of Technology) is a no-profit association founded in 1989 with the objective of facilitating scientific collaboration and cooperation between the students of 95 universities present in 32 European countries. Each year, BEST organises a wide range of initiatives designed to create opportunities for students of different nationalities to meet and interact, and these also include a special engineering competition: EBEC, European Best Engineering Competition. 

This year, the first part of this riveting challenge between eggheads was hosted by Turin Polytechnic University at the end of November, and was structured in two phases: the Case Study, in which the students analysed an engineering problem to find an appropriate solution, and the Team Design phase, in which the 25 top ranking teams (each with maximum 4 members) from the Case Study phase had 8 hours to create the prototype of their design.

This year, Avio Aero, a partner of Best, was the “commissioning” company that set the engineering mission for the Team Design phase.

Our engineers, Assunta Cimino, Luigi Fumagalli, Alberto Ghiazza and Salvatore Garofalo, led by Stefano Protto and Salvatore Miglietta, took on their role as referees with great enthusiasm and assigned the 25 teams of young students the task of designing and building a simplified, low-cost prototype for an aeronautical engine for the FETT (First Engine To Test) certification, using only recyclable materials. The technical requirements were established by our pool of engineers, after they too had personally built a model for the competition.

As expected, many of the solutions and prototypes attracted a high level of interest on the part of our experts due to the technologies, quality, team spirit and planning skills displayed by their creators. But after a complex selection process, only one will go on to the next round at the national event in Milan (next March) and have the opportunity to reach the final in Brno, in the Czech Republic.

On 2 December, the two-man team composed of Michele Mabritto and Edoardo Zò was declared the winner. Second year Aerospace Engineering students, the brave newcomers had tried their hand at designing an aeronautical engine armed only with recycled materials and a huge dose of creativity.

To be specific, a helical turbo engine, simplified in a prototype that presented first class technological solutions such as: 

-4 rolling bearings characterised by an external track in polystyrene on which 3 plastic spoons were assembled (a solution designed to reduce friction during the rotation of the cardboard drive shaft, with the plastic teaspoons acting as rollers or the spheres of normal bearings);

-a transmission belt composed of two polystyrene pulleys and a belt made of many elastic bands all knotted together;

- two devices compose the  fixed bearing of the shaft, each in turn made of a disc of polystyrene bearing several plastic spoons, serving as collar bearings to react to the axle loads; 

-the entire engine prototype contained inside a strong cardboard structure.

For our team of engineer-referees, the event was “a highly educational experience, alongside so many aspiring designers, novice engineers who invested an incredible amount of enthusiasm into creating their first prototype. Some of them truly displayed real talent”.

And the experience was also extremely interesting from the HR point of view: “the young people were not required to have specific skills, but only to be capable of working in a team and display creativity”, commented Monica Falco, Avio Aero Learning & Development.