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Engineering Design Challenge to be held virtually after postponement from April

Wayne Johnson, Ph.D., examines a drone with mechanical engineering student Lydia Poole before the COVID-19 pandemic. Drones like this one will be used during the 2020 Engineering Design Challenge.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Georgia Southern University Engineering Design Challenge (EDC) 2020: Eagle — Remotely Operated Aerial Reconnaissance (ROAR) was moved to November 7 and will be presented virtually through Zoom at 1 p.m. It will also be recorded for future viewing.

The contest, which was originally going to be a drone race, will be scaled down with three high school teams participating. As in the original contest, teams were able to design their 3D-printable grappling systems, which the drones will use to pick up a payload, a weighted, 3D printed tripod. The systems were printed at Georgia Southern facilities.

However, the teams have now made video presentations about their designs and the mechanics of drone flight because the live flight portion of the contest couldn’t be completed.

“The EDC 2020 Eagle — ROAR drone-themed competition was partly inspired by NASA’s current mission to Mars, which is carrying a Mars rover appropriately named Perseverance,” said Wayne Johnson, Ph.D., EDC director and mechanical engineering professor on the Armstrong Campus. “Perseverance is exactly what our EDC teams demonstrated. They have risen to the myriad of challenges posed not only by EDC, but also by the many COVID-19 related changes to how we work and interact with each other.”

Five Georgia Southern engineering students and Gulfstream engineers provided guidance to the teams through virtual meetings.

“The use of virtual meeting resources played a vital role in allowing the students to continue their work in the fall,” Johnson said. “They were already using these resources for their regular high school classes. Given the continued global footprint of various industries, our student teams gained valuable exposure to a distributed collaborative working environment.”

Johnson said the College of Engineering and Computing hopes the EDC will showcase the opportunities offered to prospective students.

“The Armstrong Campus in Savannah is expanding our course offerings in mechanical engineering, so students can continue to live and work in Savannah while pursuing the first three years of their degree,” Johnson said. “Regardless of the campus, the College of Engineering and Computing offers outstanding and dedicated faculty who will prepare students for whatever engineering challenges they may encounter once they leave our Eagle’s nest.”

To watch the online competition, RSVP at


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