Once a year, the Engineering Design Center campus in Warsaw transforms itself into a rollicking science fair with a bevy of attractions. For one night, EDC engineers morph into guides and put their technical knowledge on display at the biggest educational event in Poland: Night at the Institute of Aviation.
On October 11, exhibitors from the Polish aerospace industry and scientific community came to Warsaw to attend the tenth edition of Night at the Institute and to present their very own marvels to the general public. The theme this year was “UFO: Unidentified Flying Objects.” Over 51,000 visitors made their way through the EDC’s Material Laboratory and Heat Transfer and Fluid Mechanics Laboratory.
A special area was set up with a number of exhibition booths where attendees learned about all the activities carried out by the 1,400 engineers working at the EDC. Videos rolled on multiple screens throughout the facility revealing how products and engine components work, EDC engineers 3D-printed additive parts live, and for the first time, the Catalyst engine’s components were showcased, highlighting the importance of this European turboprop program not only for the aviation industry but also for the environment through its sustainable innovations.
Whether you are a budding 12-year-old brainiac or veteran tinkerer, there was something for everyone. Visitors could take a spin at the wheel of a Cessna 172SP in a flight simulator, admire a turbofan engine constructed entirely of Legos, or watch av geeks compete in the EDC Hackathon.
The EDC Hackathon is a 24-hour long coding competition in which contestants put their avionic prowess to the test. As guests milled about, four teams raced against time and each other to successfully complete nine different tasks with fully operational drones built by digital engineers at the EDC. The catch: drones came without manual controllers or smartphones to direct their movements. The Hackathonists had to program the drones to complete each separate task.
One objective of the Hackathon—beyond getting your hack on—is to demonstrate how the scope of work at the EDC goes beyond aviation engines and power turbines. Each year a different section gets the privilege to prepare their own challenge; previously, participants have tackled flight simulators and industrial IoT.
This year their minds were collectively blown. “It was nothing like our previous Hackathons,” said Łukasz Ocypa, Hackathon Team Leader. “This year’s theme made it way more technically challenging. But we managed to make it all work. Even we were surprised how great it all came about.”
Kamil Łobodiuk, one of the guest competitors, had high praise for the Hackathon. “I can highly recommend taking part in EDC Hackathons,” he wrote on his blog. “I’ve been to a lot of drone-related events, but not a lot of them were so professionally prepared.”
As part of the challenge, programmers had to surmount a number of obstacles that a drone might encounter while hovering and zooming over terra firma. Each team’s drone had to deliver a package, land safely on a specific landing pad, fly through a hole in a wall, discharge cargo in a specific spot, and follow a train.
Failure was not an option and the competition was fierce. (How fierce? Check out the EDC Hackathon 2019 Drones trailer.) But the programmers came up with innovative solutions—and had a lot of fun in the process. In the end, the “One More Flight” team triumphed and walked out of the Hackathon with a cool prize: brand-new DJI Spark drones for each team member.
They weren’t the only winners at the EDC that night: Lucky visitors who knew the secret password received a multi-colored propeller beanie. Needless to say, those beanies were worn with pride.