Strategy Uber Alles! And A Good Poker Face Comes In Handy

Student competitions are about design. Simply put, can you and your teammates design a solution to a problem, or develop an apparatus to perform a complex task?

Before you’re allowed to turn your new device loose on an unsuspecting world you have to validate your work two ways: submit a very detailed engineering report describing your design approach, and give a ten-minute illustrated presentation to a group of very skeptical aeronautical engineers. PROFESSIONAL aeronautical engineers. Who design REAL fighter jets. Not nau(gh)tical engineers who design Carnival cruise ships.

S&T’s Advanced Aero Vehicle Group has done a bang-up job in the advanced class, talking 1st place in presentation and 3rd in design, racking up enough points to hold first place in the three-day event. A strong flight score could wrap up S&T’s first overall victory in a decade, but near gale-force winds have, uh, stalled that plan so far.

By late today no advanced team had flown successfully. A catastrophic crash took our good friends at St Louis University out of the running while S&T suffered engine failure and couldn’t rise from the runway. The Billikens quickly offered their engine to the Miners, who then spent the afternoon adapting it to their aircraft.

Then came the strategy issue………..

The AAVG abacus indicated that if no advanced class aircraft completes the prescribed sortie, then S&T would take home the trophy. By not flying.


Since the SLU engine couldn’t quite power the S&T aircraft, the AAVG crew decided NOT to fly anymore and just sat around texting their friends, Buuuuut, knowing a valid flight by another team could knock the Miners from the top spot, they nonetheless hauled their plane to the launch queue as if to call their opponent’s bluff. Kinda “you think you can fly in these winds? If you’re crazy enough to try it, so are we!”

Two teams took the bait and managed to claw their way into the sky, but neither were credited with a valid flight, so S&T still holds the lead.

Tomorrow the winds are supposed to ease. If any of the 2 or 3 surviving advanced class aircraft do well, the Miners may have to gamble a little themselves.