At some point, you may have experienced the resonating sound of an airplane flying overhead, or, as a passenger, heard the rumble of a jet engine. If you haven’t noticed already, airplanes are getting quieter as new engine technology is making planes more efficient by reducing noise pollution, thus allowing for more eco-friendly flights.

Quieter skies/less pollution

Less noise in the air means less pollution overall. And we’re not just talking noise pollution. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is taking measures in cooperation with the aviation community to not only control aircraft noise but engine emissions. Captain Pete Russo, PhD, aviation department chair and assistant professor of aviation at Vaughn College, weighed in on the topic. “Part of the modernization from ground-based technology to satellite-based technology allows aircraft to change flight patterns, making for a more direct and efficient path—reducing time, fuel and fuel burn,” Russo stated. He explained other aviation measures that are in effect at airports, including:

  • Reducing transit traffic—Giving fewer planes clearance to fly at given times.
  • Utilizing computer sequencing programs—Limiting noise and engine smoke is helped by allowing a fewer number of planes to sit on the runway with their engines running.
  • Alternating departure and approach flight paths—Having flexible flight paths prevents planes from flying over the same air space, giving those on the ground who are in a flight path a break from overhead noise.
  • Soundproofing nearby buildings—Vaughn College is just one example of how soundproofing buildings significantly is decreasing noise pollution for students and faculty. Situated adjacent to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, Vaughn underwent a three-year, $26 million grant-funded project to soundproof its buildings and classrooms.

Soaring advances

Russo stands optimistic as he’s seen firsthand how the aviation industry is leaning in the direction of “greener” flights. “Our engineering students at Vaughn are in the lab as we speak, designing 3D printed composite airplane parts,” said Russo. “Lighter parts and lighter engines allow for more efficient planes. I’m confident it won’t be long before we see electric-powered planes in our skies.”

Major airlines switching to quieter planes

According to a recent article published in the Times Ledger, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are taking the initiative to reduce airplane noise over Queens, New York and LaGuardia Airport by discontinuing the use of the McDonnell Douglas MD-80s aircraft and opting to use “quieter and more fuel-efficient” planes. Once the biggest fleet in American Airlines history, the MD-80s will be replaced with the more fuel-efficient Airbus A319s, Airbus A320s, Boeing 737s, and a limited number of MD-90 airplanes as replacements. Russo explained how other carriers will most likely follow suit as older planes such as the MD80 are louder and less efficient.

Earth Day’s Mission

Although noise pollution is not something you can visually see, it is there nonetheless. This year’s Earth Day campaign theme is Environmental and Climate Literacy. Making airplanes more fuel-efficient goes hand in hand with Earth Day’s mission for protecting the environment from climate change and educating the public on protecting our planet.

Russo’s take

The movement to make airplanes lighter and more efficient is underway. Russo proudly said Vaughn is in the race to develop technology for a more Earth-friendly flight. “The ‘greening’ of airplanes will be a monumental change in the aviation industry,” Russo stated. “There’s no opposition?the momentum is unstoppable. At this rate, the sky’s the limit.”

What could be more exciting than defending a world championship title? The Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology Robotics Team is going head-to-head this month with 62 college teams from around the world at the 2017 VEX Worlds Robotics Competition in Louisville, Kentucky. The incumbent world champions want to keep their standing and prove they have what it takes to earn the title for the second consecutive year.

This year’s theme

“VEX Starstruck” is the theme for this year’s robotics competition. The game is played on a 12′ x 12′ field where two alliances, consisting of two teams each, compete to attain the highest score. The goal is for the robot to launch the most stars and cubes over the fence. The opponent can throw the stars and cubes back over, and at the end, the team with the highest score advances to the next round.

Upping their game

The Vaughn robotics team knows what it takes to win. Maintaining their world championship title means keeping up with the latest trends in the robotics industry and knowing how to execute the ultimate delivery.

Here are some of the ways the 10-person team continues to excel this year to meet the fierce competition:

  • Building structurally sound robots—The team relies on the structural aspect of the game, so it’s important that the robot has the utmost structural integrity, and the experience the team brings to the table means a lot.
  • Building team motivation—With hundreds of hours invested in brainstorming, designing and building the robot for competition, it’s vital for the team to stay encouraged and motivated.

Preparing for competition

Being a part of the robotics team is both fun and challenging. Bilal Rashid ’18, president of the Vaughn robotics team and a sophomore at the College, knows first-hand how hard work and dedication can go a long way. Bilal was recognized for his leadership skills as a member of last year’s winning team and was elected president of this year’s team. He explains how his team has been preparing for the competition since last summer. “It’s definitely a team effort,” Bilal said. “It started off with all of us brainstorming ideas until we got it right.” Although it took one month to build their robot, the team invested over one hundred hours to get it ready for competition. With the big day only weeks away, Bilal said the team has been in overdrive by playing against each other to sharpen their skills. “We have been working day and night to ensure our robot is perfect,” said Bilal. “If we can beat ourselves, then we are confident we can beat other teams as well.”

Vaughn College World Champion Robotics Team

Message from the team president

Bilal offers some words of encouragement to his fellow teammates before the big day: “I believe we are on the right track for winning the world championship competition again this year. We couldn’t have come this far without the support and guidance of Vaughn professors and faculty. We’re in it to win it and to make our college community proud.”

Results Update

It was a nail-biting three days at the 2017 VEX World Championship Competition in Louisville, Kentucky last month. Vaughn’s Robotics team went up against 10 teams, winning nine out of 10 matches placing them in third-place and qualifying them for the playoff round.  At the quarter finals, Vaughn competed among the top eight teams and defeated a team from China advancing them to the semi-final playoff round against AURA (a team from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.) After an intense standoff during the third match of the semi-finals, AURA defeated Vaughn, winning the spot to advance to the finals.

“The Vaughn Robotics Team has done an incredible job placing as the third top robotics team in the world,” said Dr. Hossein Rahemi, professor and chair of the Vaughn engineering and technology department. “Congratulations to all the team members for keeping their standing as one of the top ranked competitors in the 2017 world championship for four years in a row.

Looking to get involved? Learn more about how you can join or start a club!