Honing Skills Through Competition

Aerospace Engineering students participate in the Singapore Amazing Flying Machines Competition 2021 for the first time, and share takeaways from their experience

A team of Year 1 Aerospace Engineering students designed, built and flew a drone that can play the game Tic-Tac-Toe at the Singapore Amazing Flying Machines Competition 2021 held in April 2021.


The five-man team brainstormed to develop a prototype from scratch – drawing parts using SolidWorks, a computer-aided designed (CAD) software that they had learnt in Trimester 1 of their programme, and using machineries such as a 3D printer, laser-cutting machine and a computer numerical control (CNC) router to make and assemble the parts for various test runs. It was a race against time as the team decided to join less than three months to the competition.


Their prototype went up against 12 other teams in their category, where they had to fly the drone through obstacles to drop individual payloads precisely onto a Tic-Tac-Toe grid, while facing off against an AI in the game.

While the team did not make it into the top three, the competition proved to be a great learning experience for them. Mr Wilson Yik’s main takeaway was leadership skills. He had to adapt to his peers’ working styles, in addition to new responsibilities including logistical and administrative matters. “There were many instances where I felt extremely overwhelmed with stresses from both studies and competition, and my teammates were there to support me through it all,” he said. “Overall, this endeavour has improved my capabilities to lead, be it for academic projects, or for a future competition,” he added.


Fellow teammate Mr Kenny Ng said, “We bumped into a ton of problems during the building phase, but we did not give up, and that is what led to the completion of the drone in the first place. So, in whatever you do, perseverance is the key to success.”


Assoc Prof Gianmarco Radice, Programme Leader, Aerospace Engineering, shared the benefits of participating in competitions. “It allows the students to put into practice what they have been learning in the classroom, giving a practical contextualisation of their theoretical knowledge.”


“I hope this will be the first of many competitions our students get involved in. The activities and competitions provide a way for potential employers to assess a student beyond academic grades and performance,” he added. “They can showcase aspects of a student’s personality, as well as passion and commitment in what the student is doing; it may also show evidence of leadership and impact.”