Nine students of MH Saboo Siddik College of Engineering in Byculla are living with mixed emotions these days. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) designed by them has been selected for an international competition organised by the Society of Automotive Engineers-Aero Design (East) to be held at Texas in March. However, instead of preparing for the event, the youngsters are now running from pillar to post to get financial aid. There is no policy at the University of Mumbai or in the higher education department that can offer help to these students.
While four of the nine students are in a position to manage the expenses, the others can’t afford the trip. “At least Rs9 lakh will be required as logistic, airfare and lodging expenses for five people for three days,” said Abdul Kadir Poonawala, one of the ‘Team Aerosoul’ members who designed this UAV after six months of hard work. The manufacturing cost of one plane is Rs1 lakh.
“The college has agreed to give Rs4 Lakh. Two Good Samaritans also donated Rs50,000. But we are not in position to spend rest of 3.5 lakh from our parents’ pocket,” says Poonawala.
Three teams from India will compete at the Texas event which will be held between 15 and 17 March. This Saboo Siddik college team is one of them.
“Our 3.5kg autopilot aircraft has the ability to carry a payload of approximately 9kg. The engine used is a 7cc two-stroke engine and the wing span of 7ft. The plane is radio controlled with a frequency of 2.4 GHz,” says one of the team members. Seven-foot long plane is made of carbon fibre and imported balta wood is used for its wings.
Farheen Bobere, professor of Automobile engineering at the college, says: “Carrying 9kg payload with just a 7 cc Engine is something which is really amazing and that’s why our students qualify for SAE competition.” The team has successfully tested the payload drop mechanism with first prototype AM-01 at the Mahalaxmi race course last November. Professor SK Ukarande, dean, faculty of technology, University of Mumbai, lauded students’ efforts.
“The SAE event is very prestigious. Apart from innovation, a machine has to qualify all parameters framed by them. It’s indeed a matter of pride but unfortunately, we don’t have any scheme to support such an innovative team.”