If you’re going
* What: Aero Design East 2012
* When: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday
* Where: Eagles Beak greenspace park, 8250 Old Federal Road
* Cost: Free, small donation is asked for parking by Explorer Scouts
More than 500 college students and professors from around the world will be in Forsyth County this weekend.
Some 75 university engineering and aeronautic teams will compete in the Aero Design East 2012 competition, which will take place Friday at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center and Saturday and Sunday at Eagles Beak greenspace area in northwestern Forsyth.
David Roberts, one of the organizers, said the competition gives students a chance to show off their skills in designing, building and flying model aircrafts in various size categories.
“What’s so cool is how complex this competition is,” Roberts said. “It all boils down to real-world aspects of engineering.”
So much so in fact, he said, that many of the students may end up with jobs from the competition’s two main sponsors: Lockheed Martin and SAE International.
“People get jobs as a result of doing [this competition],” he said. “When they’re out there competing, these companies get to see the real character of people … ultimately, it’s a way for Lockheed and SAE to look at these people and say, ‘Hey, we like you.’”
According to Roberts, as many as 50 or more of the students could be offered positions after the event.
“It’s the most complex job fair I’ve ever heard of,” he said.
Not only is the competition beneficial for students, it will also boost the local economy, said Anna Barlow.
“We have several hotels offering their rooms and several restaurants doing catering for the students,” said Barlow, tourism director for the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.
She added that several businesses also provided coupons for student welcome bags, which will include maps and guides to the county.
“Really, the whole community is involved,” she said.
Now in its 26thyear, the event was held most recently in Cobb County.
Barlow estimated the total economic impact of the weekend in Forsyth could be more than $300,000.
“We should have more than 300 hotel room nights,” she said, noting room nights are a way to figure total economic impact of such events.
Roberts said teams are coming from U.S. colleges and universities as close as the Georgia and Florida Institutes of Technology and as far away as the University of Hawaii.
International teams hail from Brazil, Canada, China, India, Mexico, Poland, Turkey and Venezuela.
The teams will begin the competition Friday at the Forsyth Conference Center, where they will give formal presentations to judges on the designs of their aircrafts.
“In another room, they’ll show how to actually put their [aircrafts] together and members of the Georgia Model Aviators Club will check them out to make sure they are all air worthy,” Roberts said.
On Saturday and Sunday, teams will get the chance to show off their crafts in the flight at the Eagles Beak green space at 8250 Old Federal Road.
While Friday’s portion of the competition is closed to the public, spectators are welcome to attend Saturday and Sunday.
“We hope to have a sort of village set up with vendors and tables for the public,” Roberts said.
He said spectators will get to watch a series of weight tests.
“All the teams will attempt to fly their crafts and then we’ll start adding different amounts of weight to see how well they hold up,” he said. “We’ll do about 600 flights.”
Saturday’s flights will run from 8 a.m. until about 3 p.m., Roberts said, with Sunday’s running from 8 a.m. until about 1 p.m. and concluding with an awards ceremony.
“These are all complete unique designs. None of them look alike,” he said. “This should be a really exciting event for Forsyth County.”