UCI’s HPA is engineered for safety and reusability. The aircraft has been meticulously documented and engineered using product lifecycle management software, a first for senior design projects at UCI. This project is a true testament to UCI’s strength in fostering engineering talents as it aligns learning objectives with project goals and product delivery. It blends academic fundamentals with real‐world engineering. On the academic side, students have independently studied and applied aerodynamic and mechanical concepts such as lift and drag modeling, thrust modeling, propeller design, aircraft stability and control, and composite structures modeling. For real‐world engineering, students learned and applied engineering and manufacturing skills such as composite structure manufacturing, mold making, flight testing, data collection and data processing.
The Human Powered Airplane (HPA) Project at UCI is the first HPA to be designed and built in the United States in twenty years. The project was initiated by Jacqueline Thomas, UCI Aerospace Engineer Class of 2014, with the aim to create a unique design with composite construction that is easily produced and commercially viable. There have been a handful of HPA designs that flew in the past but they’re typically designed as a proof of concept, with ultralight composite structures with low factors of safety. These designs often last only one flight before being discarded or put on display.