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KU Engineering Students Win Award for "Batwing;" Design May Be Global Game-Changer

Six aerospace engineering students at the University of Kansas have taken first place at an international design competition in Hong Kong. Professor Ron Barrett-Gonzalez says the students developed a new form of electric aircraft that can carry passengers up to 120 miles-per-hour over land and sea.  

The electric aircraft -- called the "Batwing" -- was designed to be environmentally-friendly. It runs on batteries and produces minimal noise. If put into production, the Batwing could reduce traffic congestion in coastal cities by as much as 33 percent. The KU students who designed the Batwing are hoping to convince Cessna or Beechcraft to team up with electric car-maker Tesla to build the aircraft here in Kansas.  The award-winning KU students include: Eric Bodlak of Wayne, Nebraska; team leader Lauren Schumacher of Rolla, Missouri; Dhruv Chawla of Mumbai, India; Sagar Jaju of Punjagatta, India; Jeevan Kolli of Hyderabad, India; and Ankur Patil of Bangalore, India. Beating out multiple teams from Asia, Europe and the Americas, the KU students took first place in the 6th annual Power Electronics Systems and Applications conference in Hong Kong this week.  Batwing, or more precisely, BATWinG is an acronym for “Bay Area Transport, Wing-in-Ground-effect."

Want to read more? Check out this article in the Lawrence Journal World.


J. Schafer is the News Director of Kansas Public Radio. He’s also the Managing Editor of the Kansas Public Radio Network, which provides news and information to other public radio stations in Kansas and Missouri.