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Published: 02 May 2017

Surrey students flying high in Airbus challenge

A team of undergraduates have beaten off competition from 350 teams worldwide to get through to the final round of the Airbus Fly Your Ideas challenge.

Students taking part in the Airbus Flying High Challenge
(L-r) Abdullah Al-Shakarchi, Maria Onoufriou and James Telfer.

Electrical and Electronic Engineering students Abdullah Al-Shakarchi and James Telfer, and Mechanical Engineering student Maria Onoufriou, have been recognised for their radical concept which offers an alternative to satellite imagery. One of just five teams globally to be shortlisted in the competition, they are now in the running to win the highly coveted first prize of €30,000.

The students will go head to head with four other teams from Australia, France, Hong Kong and Nigeria at a live event in Toulouse, France, on 17 May. The teams will all spend a week at the Airbus ProtoSpace facility, where they will get the chance to prototype, test and visualise their ideas using state-of-the-art equipment, with support from Airbus staff. At the end of the week, they will present their innovative projects to a panel of experts from Airbus and the worlds of aerospace and academia.

Surrey’s team – Team SkyVision – will be pitching an innovative concept in the field of airborne earth observation. The project aims to turn a commercial airliner into an earth observation device by installing equipment into the belly of the aircraft to monitor ground activity during flight. Offering an alternative to satellite imagery, this could open up new opportunities such as ecology analysis and urban planning.

Abdullah says: “Participating in Fly Your Ideas has been an exhilarating and rewarding journey throughout this academic year. We are incredibly excited to represent the University of Surrey and the UK in the finals. This competition is an excellent example of corporations engaging students on innovation, progressing ideas from minds unconstrained by industry norms to tangible projects.”

Dr David Carey, Head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, comments: “The University of Surrey has always prided itself in developing the next generation of engineers and the innovation behind Team SkyVision is a fantastic example of the multidisciplinary nature of modern engineering where current undergraduates can make a genuine impact.”       

The Airbus Fly Your Ideas challenge, now in its fifth year, aims to stimulate innovative ideas for a sustainable aviation industry and identify opportunities for R&T (Research and Technology) development with academic research teams. The challenge recognises the most world’s innovative student projects across a wide range of disciplines from natural sciences to engineering to business.

Why not explore our programmes in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Sciences?