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Campus Life Series: Graduate Success

Student wins global aviation competition with idea to harness energy from vibrating wings

A student from City University London has won the prestigious Fly Your Ideas competition, taking home his share of a €30,000 prize.

by Nicola Ranson

The Fly Your Ideas competition, organised by Airbus in partnership with UNESCO,Team Multifun challenges students to innovate for the future of aviation. Dhamotharan Veerasamy (pictured on the far left of the image), who studies for a PHD in Aeronautical Engineering at City, was joined by four students from across the world to form Team Multifun. Their winning idea was to dress plane wings in a composite skin that harvests energy from natural vibrations. 

Members of Team Multifun, hail from Georgia Institute of Technology, USA; Delft University of Technology, Netherlands and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India alongside City. The team beat more than 500 other entries to reach the final round and were invited to Hamburg to present their idea to a panel of industry experts where they were crowned the winners. 

Team Bolleboos, comprised of three doctoral students from City, also reached the final round with their design to wirelessly power planes while taxiing. Judit Guimera Busquets, Evelien Van-Bokhorst and Isabella Fumarola met while studying for a PHD in Aeronautics Engineering at City. 

Dhamotharan Veerasamy said: “It was a great experience to be one of the Fly Your IdeasTeam Multifun's sketch finalists and to be crowned the global champions. All five finalist teams proposed their unique idea with powerful presentation skills and we were sure it would have been a great difficulty for the jury to choose the winner.”

The team’s idea entails aircraft wings dressed in a composite skin that harvests energy from natural vibrations in the wings. Piezoelectric fibres gather electrical charges from even the smallest movements during flight and the energy generated would be used to power in-flight systems, such as lighting and entertainment. This reduces the energy footprint of aircraft during flight and could even replace the entire power source for ground operations. 

“It was one of the unforgettable moments in my life when team MultiFun was announced as winner of Fly Your Ideas 2015,” said Dhamotharan. “The competition encouraged students to come up with new ideas constructing the bridge between academia and industry. I’d like to thank Airbus for providing such a wonderful opportunity.”

Professor Chris Atkin, Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at City said: “We’re all delighted for Dhamotharan and his team, to whom we were able to provide support in the run-up to the final. I think it’s a major achievement for the team members to have pulled their submissions together while working remotely at four locations across the globe. The idea was interesting and well-researched, and their presentation material was coherent and well-delivered. I very much hope that Dhamotharan, as well as Judit, Isabella and Evelien, can use the Fly Your Ideas experience to help inspire their fellow research students at City.”

Definition
Piezoelectricity

Piezoelectricity is the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials in response to mechanical stress.

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