UAVForge: Students miss out on $100,000 despite winning aircraft competition

By Hermione Wright Enfield Independant

Three students missed out on $100,000 in prize money despite winning an international aircraft competition.

Middlesex University students Mehmet Ali Erbil, 26, Mantas Brazinskas, 25, and Witold Mielniczek, 29, were one of nine teams to enter the UAVForge competition in America.

Mehmet Ali Erbil, from Enfield, had spent four years working on the small unmanned air vehicle (UAV) called HALO as part of his PHD, and his two fellow students had helped out for the last year.

However, on Sunday, June 1, the students discovered that they were disqualified as their UAV – which cost £10,000 to build – failed to meet the criteria of the competition.

Not only did the students miss out on the cash, they also lost the chance to work with the UAVForge manufacturer to build 15 of their machines for the use by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Mr Ali Erbil remained defiant about the crew’s win, and said: “It was never about the cash part, it was all about being the winners.

“It’s a shame, I know exactly what happened. I think the organisers wanted to give the cash prize away but they took it to their supervisors and realised that no one had completed the full course.”