New aerospace club soars over the competition


Daniel DeMonte/The Daily Northwestern

From left to right: Lawrence Luo, Griffin Williamson, Grant Bayer, and Cuyler Dull continuing their work on their plane.

Daniel DeMonte, Reporter

If you look at the different McCormick School of Engineering majors, aerospace isn’t on the list — but don’t tell that to these guys.

McCormick students Cuyler Dull, Lawrence Luo, Griffin Williamson and Grant Bayer developed their passion for plane building when they started the Aerospace Engineering Club Winter Quarter. The aerospace club is run through NUSTARS, a Northwestern program that aims to increase diversity within design.

“We consider ourselves an education design team,” Bayer said. “In our Thursday meetings, we will usually pick an aerospace topic to talk about. The design part comes with the design build over the weekend.”

The club started as a passion project between Dull and Luo. Dull was inspired to start the club when he was abroad in Hong Kong during Fall Quarter. At the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Dull said he saw students prioritize new member education and inclusion. He wanted to bring that same system back to Northwestern.

Dull and Luo spent the beginning of Winter Quarter recruiting for the club. The team now has over twenty members.

“It was really nice to see something where you have all of the pieces fall into place in front of your eyes,” Dull said.

This quarter, the team started to design a plane for a spring 2020 competition, and wanted to give members of the club valuable learning experience. The educational aspect is just as important to the members as the preparation for competition, Luo said, though integrating underclassmen into the design building process can sometimes be a challenge.

“We all know how to learn, but teaching is an entirely different thing,” Luo said. “It’s hard to transfer the knowledge of things you already know. Thinking back to how you learned and using that to find the best way to teach something.”

Open communication has been pivotal to fostering a true community within the club for the present and future, Williamson said. The club emphasizes creativity in their projects by giving each member an opportunity to work outside their comfort zone.

Williamson emphasized recruiting people who are passionate about the design process, rather than those looking only to win competitions.

He said the group is still looking to make a mark at competitions around the country in the future.

“We want to have a consistent thing where every year we enter a competition and are able to work cohesively and get a project done that is a little bit different every year. We want to get things done,” he said.

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