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The New York Academy of Sciences Announce the Winner and Finalists of the Aerospace Challenge

Students design a more efficient and comfortable aircraft to improve future air travel

Published July 24, 2019

New York, July 24, 2019 -- A global team of high school students has created a novel design for an airplane that improves efficiency, comfort and convenience for passengers, in the United Technologies (UTC) Aerospace Challenge. The challenge asked students from around the world to imagine what air transportation of the future would look like. The winning students were from the United Kingdom, Egypt, Singapore, and Mozambique and worked online in competition with more than 600 students from 62 countries.

The winning team—Rachel Cox, 17, from Tytherington School, Macclesfield, United Kingdom; Mohamed Dein, 18, from Ain Shams Top Students High School, Cairo, Egypt; Harshita Singh Chauhan, 16, from 1 Raffles Institution, Singapore; and Guilherme Zandamela, 16, a graduate from American International School, Maputo, Mozambique—created a solution that includes using a modified cone nose to reduce pressure drag and increase fuel efficiency. They envision using silicon carbide for the fuselage and carbon nanotubes instead of copper meshes to provide lightning protection and reduce the mass of the plane. In their design the team used Bessel beams to electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen to power the aircraft, making it more environmentally friendly.

For the seats, the students used extra light titanium alloy with polyurethane foam stuffing. A revised seating layout and wider central aisle would enable passengers to have more legroom as well as more easily evacuate in an emergency.

The team also created an app, KnowMe, for passengers to input their dietary needs, health conditions, and entertainment preferences. This would allow airlines to stock only what is necessary for the passengers on each flight. All airlines would have access to this information, so customers would not have to input the same information for every flight. The app provides in-flight entertainment recommendations based on the customer’s likes and previous choices.

Students created their plan on Launchpad, the New York Academy of Sciences' proprietary virtual platform that enables students to collaborate safely while working on their projects.

For their winning solution, the team will share a $7,500 grand prize and receive all-expense-paid trips to New York City to attend the New York Academy of Sciences' Global STEM Alliance (GSA) Summit this month. At the summit, students will meet their teammates, mentors and other students from across the globe. They also visited United Technologies’ Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Connecticut on July 23, where they had the opportunity to create a prototype of their project. “We are very happy to be partnering with the Academy on this challenge and creating a pipeline of talent in the STEM field,” said Jim Fritz, Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives, Collins Aerospace.

More information about the UTC Aerospace Challenge and the winning entries may be found here.  Seven finalist teams were selected from 60 teams for their innovative solutions:

  • Margaret Gates, 15, Wantagh High School, Long Island, NY; Rishabh Java, 16, Gems Millennium School in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates; Sthuthi Satish, 15, Bangalore International School, India; Arunima Sen, 17, Kendriya Vidyalaya in Bangalore, India; Robyn An, 15, Seoul International School, South Korea; Abdallah Sabah, 17, Canadian International School of Egypt in Cario,Egypt
  • Abdul Rehman Junaid, 15, Lahore Grammar School for Boys', Lahore, Pakistan; Ibrahim Absar, 15, Lahore Grammar School for Boys', Lahore, Pakistan; Haseeb Tahir, 15, Lahore Grammar School for Boys', Lahore, Pakistan; Ammar Malik, 15, Lahore Grammar School for Boys', Lahore, Pakistan; Asad Khabir, 17, Lahore Grammar School for Boys', Lahore, Pakistan; Ramzan Ahmad, 15, Lahore Grammar School in Pakistan
  • Angela Busheska, 17, Yahya Kemal College, Struga, Macedonia; Brindha Rathinasabapathi, 17, Eastside High School, Gainesville, FL, United States; Kristoff Misquitta, 15, Stuyvesant High School, Queens, NY, United States
  • Abdul Rehman Junaid, 17, Beacon House College Campus – Gulberg, Lahore, Pakistan; Gillian Leeds, 15, Schechter School of Long Island, West Hempstead, NY, United States; Tomáz Suller, 16, Colégio Integrado Objetivo de Mogi das Cruzes, Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil; Katerina Beardsley, 15, Francis T Maloney High School, Meriden, CT, United States; Andreea Bujor, 14, Lyceum "Vasile Alecsandri", Ungheni, Moldova; Rahul Sandil, 17, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, IL, United States
  • Bhavesh Laddagiri, 17, Accord School, Ghaziabad,  India; Sruthi Shanker Pydimarry, 17, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavans Sri Rama Krishna Vidyalaya, Hyderabad, India; Vivienne Li, 15, Crofton House School, Vancouver, Canada; Shiv Shakti Srivastava, 17, S N Public School, Mirzapur, India; Jashan Matadeen, 17, Royal College of Port Louis, Port Louis, Mauritius
  • Anusree Sreedeep Nair, 13, Deens Academy - ECC Campus, Bangalore, India
  • Lidija Sokolova, 17, Rīgas 1. Vidusskola, / Daugavpils, Latvia


The Global STEM Alliance (GSA)—a subsidiary of the New York Academy of Sciences—is a worldwide talent identification and cultivation network made up of more than 250 partners and reaching participants in over 100 countries. Designed to inspire and prepare the next generation of innovators, GSA programs focus on mentorship, skills development, and the application of skills to real-world challenges.

About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With more than 20,000 members in 100 countries around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at Twitter: @NYASciences

About United Technologies
United Technologies Corp., based in Farmington, Connecticut, provides high-technology systems and services to the building and aerospace industries.  By combining a passion for science with precision engineering, the company is creating smart, sustainable solutions the world needs. To learn more about UTC, visit the website or follow the company on Twitter @UTC.



Mandy Carr
Communications Manager, Global STEM Alliance
The New York Academy of Sciences