Colorado State Students Win Top Prize at Space Research Symposium

Note to Editors: Photos of the vehicle are available with the news release at

The unmanned aerial vehicle team from Colorado State University took home the grand prize at the 2008 Undergraduate Space Research Symposium sponsored by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.

The team – mechanical engineering seniors Allison Porter, Chris Lawhorn and Grant Rhodes – designed and constructed a low-cost, durable, robotic airplane capable of taking pictures of predetermined locations. Although components for this type of project typically cost several thousand dollars, the team developed their unmanned aerial vehicle for $1,100.  

"By showing the feasibility of a low-cost, unmanned aerial vehicle, we hope to spark further interest in unmanned aerial vehicle development and usage on a commercial basis in addition to the well-established military market," said Allison Porter, the team’s financial planner.

Under the direction of project director Paul Wilbur and project adviser Hiroshi Sakurai, the team developed the project as part of an internship funded by the Colorado Space Grant Program at Colorado State University, which operates under the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.

The Colorado Space Grant Consortium provides Colorado students access to space-related experiences through innovative courses; real-world, hands-on telescope and satellite programs; and interactive outreach courses. Funded by NASA as part of National Space Grant Program, the consortium provides 13 Colorado colleges, universities and institutions the opportunity to interact with engineers and scientists from NASA and aerospace companies to develop, test and fly new space technologies and to support our outreach and teaching programs.

For more information about the consortium, go to