M-Fly’s mission is to provide a multi-disciplinary learning experience for students while establishing a tradition of competitiveness and success in the SAE Aero Design and AUVSI-SUAS competitions. Our mission is to provide valuable hands-on learning experiences for Michigan students outside the classroom through engineering practices, teamwork, and professional development opportunities. We also seek to create a safe and inclusive learning environment for students to develop their technical, professional, and interpersonal skills through engagement with complex, real-world engineering challenges.
The Regular Class aircraft competes in a high lift competition. The aircraft is designed by a team of four lead engineers and their subteams and is coordinated by one chief engineer. The team works during the first semester optimizing the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft while meeting all other requirements including the use of traditional building materials. This past year's aircraft was meant to mimic a "bush plane" that was required to take off and land within and constrained distance. The aircraft also had to carry at least one unit of "outsized cargo" (a size 5 soccer ball). The team is looking forward to building on the successes of this mission with the M-13.
The Advanced Class aircraft competes in a systems competition. The aircraft is designed by a team of six lead engineers and their subteams and is coordinated by one chief engineer. The team works in the first semester to optimize the balance of static and dynamic payload carried in the aircraft while meeting other requirements. This past year's competition was based around a colonist resupply mission where the aircraft first deploys autonomous "colonist delivery vehicles" which deliver passengers to a GPS coordinate and then circles back to deliver "supplies" in the form of 500 mL water bottles and Nerf howler footballs. The team is looking forward to building on the successes of the mission with the MX-6.
For the AUVSI SUAS competition, we use an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) equipped with a variety of sensors and onboard computers. Engineers from M-Fly's subteams help design and manufacture the airplane while dedicated software and hardware subteams get the plane ready for competition. The aircraft autonomously navigates a series of waypoints while making sure to stay within a specified boundary and avoid imaginary towers and other aircraft. Meanwhile, the aircraft also captures images of objects on the the ground, identifies the shapes and letters of these objects, and then relays these classifications to the competition ground station. Finally, the aircraft drops an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) via a parachute, which has to then land safely and drive to predetermined GPS coordinates.
Each of our aircraft programs has a dedicated set of subteams which focus on various aspects of aircraft design, manufacturing, and testing. Some subteams play an integral role in all three aircraft programs, where others are critical to the success of only one or two of the programs. The key below shows the subteams associated with each plane.
The Aerodynamics subteam is the fundamental design area for M-Fly. The subteam works to design an aircraft that can carry the appropriate payload, take off within runway constraints, and complete the mission successfully.
The Avionics subteam works on the Advanced Class aircraft. The team is responsible for both hardware and software of our deployable autonomous gliders, our payload drop system actuation, and drop calculations to make sure we hit our targets.
The Business team works with the executive board to support team operations. In a given year, the subteam works on branding, budgeting, sponsorship, and outreach. Business is critical to the success of our team.
The Composites subteam works closely with the Manufacturing, Structures, and Aerodynamics subteams to determine which aircraft parts would benefit from being made from composites. We primarily work with carbon fiber and fiberglass and design and manufacture many of our own molds.
The Hardware team works on the AUVSI aircraft's electronics. They are responsible for the hardware that handles autonomy, computer vision, and other aspects of the aircraft's control system.
The Manufacturing subteam takes the computerized aircraft design and builds it from the ground up. They also work with the Aerodynamics and Structures subteams to ensure the design is manufacturable and to prototype components for validation purposes.
The Propulsion subteam is responsible for selecting and testing the optimal motor-propeller combination which will provide the aircraft with enough thrust to complete its mission while still remaining within the competition power constraints.
The Software subteam works on the AUVSI aircraft and is reponsible for all software on the aircraft, including the flight systems and the computer vision.
The Structures subteam is responsible for the mechanical design of the aircraft and ensures the system can handle all flight loads predicted by the Aerodynamics subteam. The subteam also has a major role in systems integration, working to create appropriate space and mounting hardware for all other physical systems.