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Department of Physics and Engineering Physics Abstracts

SAE Aero Competition

Our group of dedicated engineers decided to enter a competition hosted by the Society of Automotive Engineers: the SAE Aero Regular Class Design Competition. The goal of this competition was to construct a radio-controlled aircraft that both complies with the competition rules and maximizes possible points to perform to the standards expected at Tulane engineering. The main rule we had to follow in the design process was the design challenge that a primary axis of our aircraft could be at most 4 feet; this challenge required us to manufacture a modular design for the aircraft. As for maximizing our points, we did this by attempting to manufacture as large of a wingspan as we felt comfortable (13 feet), trying to carry as large of a payload as we felt comfortable (15 pounds), and correctly stating this payload in a payload estimate before the competition. After taking into account the required rules and the attempts to maximize our points, we both designed and manufactured a wood aircraft that will compete in Fort Worth in mid-April.

Sponsors: Newcomb Tulane College Grant, Department of Physics and Engineering Physics

Mentors: Jack Hawkins, Matt Theriot, Mitchell Cherry



This year, NASA RASC-AL has challenged us to design the architecture for a crewed mission to Mars. This architecture must support a sustained human presence on Mars, with four astronauts living in the habitat for 7 years. The architecture of the project includes the launch mission, entry-descent-landing logistics, and supporting the crew while on Mars. Our habitat is titled ROMULUS which stands for  Resource Optimized Martian Underground Life-supporting Structure. A series of underground interconnected domes will house the four astronauts for their seven years on the planet. ROMULUS focuses on redundancy so the astronauts will never be left without water, oxygen, food, or any other essentials. 

Construction will utilize in-situ resources, with multiple robots working to build the underground domes with Martian regolith. This process will begin in 2038, and the habitat will be complete by the crew's arrival. All points of the ROMULUS will be buried under a minimum of 5 meters of martian regolith to mitigate radiation, dust, and wind threats. 

The seven years will be spent actively working to explore Mars in conjunction with NASA’s efforts, goals, and instruction. After 7 years of time this crew will begin their journey to Earth and another crew and mission will come to expand on their work.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iERbYF-B8hM 


Musical Robots

The Musical Robots Project aims to create a band of fully automated robots capable of playing songs from MIDI files. The band is composed of Guitarbot, Recorderbot and Drumbot. Each able to play their corresponding instruments rapidly and accurately. The actuation on the robots is done through various solenoids that are wired up to one central microcontroller. The controller is able to interpret and play any generic MIDI music file given to it. This project displays the integration of musical hardware and software into an ensemble that explores the boundaries of engineering and art.