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FirePoint Contest Invites Students to Design the U.S. Army’s Next Drone

Flying logo Flying 9/11/2019 Rob Mark
a large air plane on display: Flying © Provided by Bonnier Corporation Flying

The FirePoint Innovations Center at Wichita State University has opened registration for the first-ever FirePoint C3 Challenge, inviting university students from around the U.S. to submit their best designs for the Army's future unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The C3 Challenge intends to “develop the STEM workforce of tomorrow by giving students hands-on, real-world experience and networking opportunities in the aerospace industry, while also searching for the most innovative UAV designs currently residing in university labs around the country,” according to the press release announcement on September 12, 2019. The C3 Challenge joins student designers, engineers and innovators in teams alongside U.S. Army and industry partners to create advanced technologies that will further propel the Army Futures Command’s product and workforce development initiatives.

With a total prize package of up to $35,000, the C3 Challenge wants design proposals for a specific UAV subsystem component—either lift, energy or structure. Up to 10 teams will then be selected to develop a proof of concept and finally collaborate to design and fabricate an integrated working prototype for final presentation to the Army.

C3 teams will collaborate remotely with one another using the 3D design and modeling platform built by Dassault Systems, in order to simulate how real-world development and problem-solving happens in modern engineering. Teams will also participate in on-site meetups and get behind-the-scenes access to see the design and production floors at some of the biggest, most well-known companies in American aviation, manufacturing and aerospace. The FirePoint Innovations Center is a unique, armed services-driven part of Wichita State University, and it's designed to "bring the best expertise, technology and capabilities from industry, academia, and government to help the Army accelerate the development and delivery of new capabilities to the warfighter," according to the center's website.

Teams begin by registering and then submitting an intent to compete by October 18th. The program runs through February 2021, when the final reports and demonstration of the completed UAV will be presented to the U.S. Department of Defense, along with other industry experts in aerospace, aviation and manufacturing. This competition is also sponsored by the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University, which has been an incubator for aeronautical innovation nationwide.

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