Andrew RodriguezMajor: Mechanical Engineering Mentor: Dr. Andreas Gross, Assistant ProfessorMechanical Engineering at New Mexico State University
Greetings! My name is Andrew Rodriquez. I am currently a junior at New Mexico State University. I am studying to get a Bachelor’s of Science (B.S.) in Mechanical Engineering. I chose mechanical engineering because growing up I caught interest in building and designing small things with my dad. As I grew the stuff we would build began to get more complex. So basically I grew into this field. My expected graduation date is December 2018. I transferred to New Mexico State from NMSU-Carlsbad in the fall semester of 2015. Since entering college, I have been involved in two New Mexico AMP programs, as a SCCORE intern and as a URS student. I am currently a URS student. The opportunities the NM AMP has given me really helped me learn more about engineering and how to research more efficiently and effectively. I am currently researching about a solar assisted model aircraft for rangeland monitoring. This research interests me because I am getting hands on work and computer work with this project. I am able to give my input on designing the aircraft and I get to build it from scratch. I plan to get my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering then enter the work field. Once I obtain a steady job I plan to go back to school for a Master’s of Science (M.S.) in Mechanical Engineering, hopefully on my companies expense.
Solar-Assisted Model Aircraft for Rangeland Monitoring
Rangeland crop monitoring with remote controlled aircraft is inexpensive and very effective. Combustion engine powered models do however have a limited flight time of typically about 20 minutes. This projects aims at developing a hand-made aircraft model that is battery powered during takeoff and solar powered during cruise (based on Las Cruces ambient data) to allow for day-long eco-friendly and quiet flights. Performance estimates have shown that a 12ft wing span model with 10lb empty weight would be able to carry a 5lb payload. The full-scale aircraft will be covered with more than 40 5x5in monocrystalline solar cells. To test the aerodynamics and handling a half-scale model was recently built and test flown. The half-scale model also helped clarify questions we had about the full-scale design. The full-scale model is and exact 1:2 scale of the half-scale model except for the fuselage which was altered to accommodate instrumentation. The full-scale has to be exceptionally light weight and aerodynamically efficient to be able to cruise solely on solar power according to prior calculations. Towards this end work on a fiberglass composite fuselage shell has been completed. The final wing has been designed and is currently being built. This current research that I am working on will fly on solar power and monitor crop rangeland efficiently and inexpensively.