Following Tradition to the Cutting Edge
Posted on July 01, 2013
It looked like a scene straight out of a movie. Fresh off of several months of working feverishly for 80 plus hours a week to design and then 3D-print an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a 6.5-foot-wingspan, the moment of truth had arrived for U.Va. engineering students and brothers Steven Easter and Jonathan Turman. There they stood – in shorts – with a group of twenty or so representatives from the government and the private sector, all dressed in suits, in a field just outside of Charlottesville. Everyone wanted to know: Would it fly?
Before the UAV even left the runway, the landing gear snapped in two.
The men in suits left, but, thanks to the lightweight, interchangeable pieces the brothers designed and printed to create the plane, the project was not grounded. The group reassembled in less than a week, this time, the plane – and the brothers’ public profile – took off. National media attention followed, along with a commission for a second UAV.
The accolades were no surprise to the faculty members who taught 100- and 200-level engineering courses to Easter and Turman, who were members of John Tyler Community College’s Engineering program’s first graduating class. Thanks to a guaranteed transfer agreement, the brothers were able to seamlessly transfer their credits from John Tyler to the University of Virginia’s (U.Va.) School of Engineering and Applied Science.
As their skills advanced, internships and other opportunities followed. The pair soared. When he graduated in May 2013, Easter was even named the top academic graduate of U.Va.’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, and it all started at Tyler.
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Heather Busch, Creative Services Manager