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5th annual Senior Design Expo for the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology

CEAT hosts a weekend of engineering innovation

Friday, May 3, 2024

Media Contact: Desa James | Communications Coordinator | 405-744-2669 |

There was no limit to the amount of engineering innovation displayed this weekend by the Oklahoma State University College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology students. 

Two significant events — the 13th annual Speedfest and the fifth year of the Senior Design Expo — were high-energy presentations of just how much CEAT students have to offer. 

On Friday, April 26, visitors from public schools, technical institutions and the local community joined OSU students, faculty and staff to view designs presented by 75 teams.  

This event started in fall 2018 due to Drs. Jeffrey Young and Dan Fisher wishing to unite the college through interdisciplinary projects. With modest beginnings of just the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering schools participating, the Senior Design Expo continued to grow.

In spring 2019, interdisciplinary design professor Jim Beckstrom helped grow it to an 11-team event with projects involving MAE, ECE, civil engineering, architecture and computer science students.  

Senior Design Expo exemplifies CEAT’s emphasis on effective pedagogy and vital experiences. The teams engage with industry, alumni and faculty equipping them with advanced knowledge and exposure that prepares them for real-world settings, creating professionals with strong technical knowledge, interdisciplinary training and business acumen. 

Several hundred people attended the event throughout the day. 

Starting Friday night and culminating Saturday afternoon, Speedfest drew a crowd of over 2,000 to the OSU Unmanned Aircraft Flight Station in Glencoe, Oklahoma, where college-level and K-12 students competed with their aircraft. 

Speedfest started in 2011 with just two OSU Aerospace Engineering Capstone teams competing in a pylon race, with some flight demonstrations by regional model airplane pilots and several hundred in attendance. 

The event has grown exponentially over the years. This year’s Speedfest XIII (2024) had 34 5th-12th grade teams and two OSU Aerospace Engineering teams competing. 

India class teams (5th-12th) were provided with electric-powered airplane kits developed by MAE and curriculum for Aeronautics and Space. Dr. Dorinda Risenhoover, NASA Space Grant education coordinator at OSU, works with educators of the India teams to create a unique experience for each. The mission for India class teams at Speedfest is to race their aircraft in a pylon race head-to-head with five to six other airplanes at a time. The team with the most flags in 2 minutes over a 400-foot course wins. 

Alpha class (collegiate) teams were given the objective to develop a high-speed jet-powered stealth target drone that could be used by the U.S. Army to train soldiers in how to identify such threats.  

Dr. Andy Arena, the mastermind behind Speedfest, noted that the students did an excellent job. Radar guns detected neither Alpha team aircraft on any of their speed runs throughout the competition. 

With the threat of dangerous weather, Alpha class ran four scoring heats on Friday and another four on Saturday just before the weather hit. The weather also limited some India teams that competed in Speedfest 2024 from attending Saturday.

Making an IMPACT 

“Speedfest was created to make a significant impact in the lives of the students by immersing them in a unique and competitive hands-on experience focused on aerospace,” Arena said. 

Arena said that each year, industry and sponsors comment on the quality of the experience and the rigor of the program — noting how it benefits the students they go on to hire. At the 5th-12th grade level, teachers have mentioned they have had students who went to college and majored in engineering because of Speedfest. 

“In fact, we have had several students over the years who participated in high school, and then went on to compete in the Alpha class as aero engineering students at OSU,” Arena said. 

This was the first year Speedfest had a team compete in the India class that consisted of special education students. With the help of Risenhoover and Speedfest’s kit and curriculum, these students had an unforgettable experience. 

“Before all the activities start, I wanted to tell you that [my students], have already won. No matter how we do in the competition, my students are the victors. They have learned so much about aviation but more importantly about themselves. Their self-esteem, self-efficacy and sense of belonging have improved greatly. The administrators and teachers in this building are recognizing their potential and the constraints of the labels they carry are loosening. Because they are participating in this event, they feel like just another team instead of ‘those kids,'” said Denise Dunn, educator and team mentor.

The annual event is hosted by Oklahoma Aeronautics, Boeing, DoDSTEM, the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Berry Aviation Inc, Pratt & Whitney, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and NASA. 

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