7 February 2013

South Africa: SA Students in Global Aerospace Contest

A team of South African students from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) have been selected as only one of three teams from Africa to move on to the next round of the global aerospace Fly Your Ideas competition.

Fly Your Ideas is a biennial competition run by aircraft manufacturer Airbus and backed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

The competition is run to encourage the proposal of new and innovative ideas to help the aerospace and air transport industry become sustainable and eco-efficient.

"I am delighted to see the enthusiasm of the teams and our Airbus experts who are committed to sharing their know-how with these students from around the world who are the innovators of the future."

The Wits team, called the Stormhawks - made up of Pitso Mangoro, Muhammed Dangor, Sambharthan Cooppan, Tshireletso Mango and Azhar Cassim - entered their idea of an aircraft control system to replace fly-by-wire technology with a hybrid visible light communication system.

The Stormhawks were selected as one of 100 student teams from across five continents to proceed to the second round of the competition.

Of the remaining teams, only 3% are from Africa, 3% are from the Middle East, 8% from the Americas, 37% from Europe and 49% from Asia Pacific.

"At this stage of the competition, Airbus has identified the most innovative ideas from over 600 teams who entered the third edition of the Unesco-backed competition," the aircraft manufacturer said.

Each of the teams have until 12 April to explore, test and develop their concepts with the help of an Airbus mentor and expert.

There will be another elimination round before the final five teams present their concepts to a panel of industry experts at Airbus headquarters in Hamburg, Germany on 12 June.

The winners will be announced at Unesco headquarters in Paris, France on 13 June. The winning team will walk away with €30,000 (over R300 000) and the chance to host an "innovation week" on their university campus run by Airbus experts.

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