18-Year-Old Engineer Constructs Fuel-Efficient, Stable “Flying Wing” Aircraft Prototype

22 May

Ivo Zell, 18, of Lorch, Germany was awarded first place for designing and constructing a remote control prototype of a new “flying wing” aircraft at this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science & the Public and the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. The competition featured nearly 1,800 young scientists selected from 425 affiliate fairs in 78 countries, regions and territories.

Flying wings are inherently more efficient than traditional aircraft designs, but also less stable in flight because they have little or no fuselage or tail. Zell’s working prototype aircraft addresses this issue, using an unusual bell-shaped lift profile for improved stability and using telemetry to demonstrate its stability. The modified shape of Zell’s aircraft allows it to operate smoothly and safely in challenging flight situations without the need for a complex electronic stabilization system and without significantly sacrificing fuel efficiency. Potential applications range from drone delivery systems to larger aircraft design. Zell received the Gordon E. Moore Award of US$75,000, named in honor of the Intel co-founder and fellow scientist.

Amber Yang, 18, of Windermere, Florida received one of two Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards of US$50,000 for her innovative approach to predicting the locations of clouds of space debris that move in low Earth orbit. An estimated 500,000 space trash objects now pose a potential hazard for spacecraft. Yang adapted an algorithm to train her own artificial neural network to recognize space objects in a specific debris cloud and predict their future locations.

Valerio Pagliarino, 17, of Castelnuovo Calcea, Italy received the other Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award of US$50,000 for his prototype of a novel laser-based, wireless, high-speed network. Motivated by the lack of reliable Internet access in his rural locale, Pagliarino designed his new system using off-the-shelf components and then built and tested a small version of the network.

“Intel congratulates this year’s winners. Ivo Zell, Amber Yang, and Valerio Pagliarino and all of the participants inspire us with their talent and passion for changing the world,” said Rosalind Hudnell, Intel vice president of Corporate Affairs and president of the Intel Foundation. “As a diverse and inclusive group developing groundbreaking solutions to global challenges, these young people represent the next generation of innovators. We’re proud to support all of the finalists as they endeavor to improve the world around them.”

In addition to the top winners, approximately 600 finalists received awards and prizes for their innovative research, including 22 “Best of Category” winners, who each received a US$5,000 prize. The Intel Foundation also awarded a US$1,000 grant to each winner’s school and to the affiliated fair they represent.