Dillon Patel, high school student at Crest Canyon Academy in San Diego, has shown
prospective talent in the area of Aerospace Engineering. Patel previously participated
in a program at his high school called QUEST which encourages students to pursue scientific
research on the topic of their interest. Referred to SDSU’s College of Engineering
by Tom Nietz, Chief of Aerospace Engineering at Northrop Grumman, Dillon Patel was
very excited at the idea of advancing in Aerospace Engineering, specifically involving
UAV’s in reference to perched landing and biomimetics.
With a referral from Dr. Mehrabadi, Dillon Patel had the amazing opportunity to work
under the advisory of Engineering faculty member Dr. Gustaaf Jacobs. After discussing
ideas, Dr. Jacobs helped Dillon lay out a plan to develop an unmanned air vehicle
that achieved a perched landing, inspired by the manner of a bird land. Dillon did
an extensive literature survey and started working on a preliminary design of the
UAV. He sketched a number of prototypes and decided to use a Delta Wing configuration.
He then created his prototype in CAD with help from Daniel Nelson, a PhD student in
SDSU/UCSD's Joint Doctoral Program. With the help of Mr. Nelson, Dillon performed
a preliminary stability analysis of the UAV. He presented this work at the San Diego
Science Fair and was awarded 1st place Category award, Sweepstakes runner up, the
Fredrick H. Rhor Award. He also received as professional society awards from the American
Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers,
the Harry Barnet Memorial Award, the U.S Air Force Award, and the Naval Science Award
from the Office of Naval Research. He is now eligible to enter the statewide competition.
Dillon hopes to continue collaborating on this project with Dr. Jacobs and Mr. Nelson
as he moves forward.