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Drexel’s AIAA Student Chapter Looks to the Libraries for Information & Inspiration

January 31, 2018

This winter, members of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) student section at Drexel University will be busy designing a personal flying device for the GoFly Challenge, a 2-year competition sponsored by Boeing that “fosters the development of safe, compact personal flying devices capable of flying 20 miles while carrying a single person.”

And they’re getting a little help from the Libraries.  

Jay Bhatt, Drexel’s Liaison Librarian for Engineering, will be partnering with the student group to support them as they develop a submission for the GoFly competition. He joined the AIAA student chapter in January to talk about the Drexel Libraries’ resources and how the Libraries is integral to creating a successful competition submission.   

“I’m partnering with the students in the AIAA to disseminate information on all the resources the Drexel Libraries offers. That’s the first thing,” Bhatt explained. “Next, students need to know how to search for information. They need someone to guide them to become independent learners who are comfortable searching the Libraries’ various tools, like our databases. For the GoFly Challenge – and even coursework and when they’re on co-op or working full-time after graduation -- it’s so important they know what information is available and how to find it. I’m responsible for partnering with professors and groups like this to get the word out.”

Bhatt is not new to collaborating with faculty and students on campus. He has partnered with Drexel’s Ajmal Yousuff, PhD, an associate professor in the College of Engineering and the academic advisor for the AIAA student chapter, for several years. The pair have co-written articles about using information technologies in aerospace research, and they also work together in the classroom. For the last several years, Bhatt has volunteered to attend and speak to Dr. Yousuff’s Aircraft Engineering and Performance course. During these classroom visits, Bhatt gives students a basic introduction to the Libraries, describing the resources and support that will be available to them throughout their academic careers.

This existing partnership made Bhatt’s supporting the AIAA student chapter a no-brainer, and he happily volunteered to share his vast knowledge of the Libraries’ resources – and aeronautics and engineering in general – with the AIAA chapter members.

“I share news and current events, as well as scholarly research with my students. They benefit from knowing about all the different types of information sources when preparing for something like the Boeing competition, and it will make their entry in the competition stronger,” Bhatt said. “It’s all about brainstorming and being aware of what’s out there and looking at different information and projects to create something new.”

For this specific competition, students will also need to find, review and understand many different types of documents and information, including safety standards, patents and modern engineering research so they can create a unique – and safe! – design for a personal flying device.

Written proposals for the GoFly Challenge are due April 18, 2018, and selected teams will be asked to build and eventually test their devices. Bhatt will continue to attend the AIAA chapter meetings to support the group and their work on this and other engineering challenges.

“These students are so energetic and full of ideas,” Bhatt said. “It’s incredibly exciting to be able to offer them mentoring and support – to help them organize these ideas they have so they can create something new and exciting.”

For more information about how you can partner with the Drexel University Libraries, contact