Flying Around in Montreal: Fire-Fighting Drone Prototypes Built by Engineering Students from Around the World

Flying Around in Montreal: Fire-Fighting Drone Prototypes Built by Engineering Students from Around the World


The next generation of drones, those high tech air machines that carry out a range of tasks from logistics mapping and package delivery to surveillance and firefighting, are being designed by student engineers from around the world.

On Nov. 16, student design teams from 25 colleges and universities from across the U.S. and around the globe will descend on the Palàis des Congres in Montreal, bringing along with them unmanned air vehicles to enter in the ASME 2014 Student Design Competition.

Taking commands from a wireless controller, the vehicle must lift from the floor, navigate through obstacles, change elevation, and drop a payload at a designated location, before returning to the starting point.  The vehicles in the competition were built to drop water on a fire.

“Win or lose, all the participants in the ASME Student Design Competition display considerable technical ingenuity and skill in designing these air vehicles which are a forerunner to a technology that is beginning to exert an impact in multiple industries,” said J. Robert Sims, the president of ASME.  “The drones in the competition do some amazing things.”

The 24 student teams, each a winner in a regional competition held earlier in the year – two of which took place internationally – incorporated fundamental engineering concepts in their designs.  Six judges will calculate points based on speed and number of obstacles negotiated, among other design and performance criteria.

The winning team will receive a $500 monetary award.  The second and third-place teams will receive $300 and $150 prizes, respectively.  ASME provided $1500 and $1200 travel stipends, respectively, to the international and domestic teams that were winners of the regional competitions.

“The competition showcases the extraordinary talents of the young men and women who will become tomorrow’s engineers, innovators, and problem-solvers,” said Sims.

Other design competitions that the Society sponsors for students are the Innovative Additive Manufacturing 3D Challenge (IAM3D), ASME IShow, Human Powered Vehicle Competition, ASME/FIRST Robotics Competition, New Faces of Mechanical Engineering, Old Guard Competition, Design Review Competition, and Innovative Design Simulation Challenge (IDSC).

“Taken together, these design competitions are a part of the technical growth and development of the student, combining challenge and fun,” said Sims.  “Through these competitions, ASME encourages students to develop innovations that could one day improve the quality of life for all.”

The line-up for the competition:

  • North Carolina State University (Raleigh, N.C.)
  • Wentworth IT (Boston, Mass.)
  • Wentworth University (Boston, Mass.)
  • New York Institute of Technology (New York, N.Y.)
  • University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, N.D.)
  • University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minn.)
  • University of Arkansas (Little Rock, Arkansas)
  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock, Texas)
  • California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
  • University of the Pacific (Stockton, Calif.)
  • Germanna Community College (Fredericksburg, Va.)
  • Baker College (Flint, Mich.)
  • Instituto Tecnologico de Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua, Mexico)
  • The British University of Egypt (Cairo)
  • BITS Pilani (Dubai)
  • IIT Bombay (India)
  • UET Lahore (Pakistan)
  • Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria (Lima, Peru)
  • Yeditepe University (Istanbul, Turkey)
  • Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Hung Hom, Hong Kong)
  • Prince Mohammad bin Fahd University (Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia)
  • SRM University (Tamil Nadu, India)
  • ISAE Supaero (Toulouse, France)
  • National Tsing Hua University (Hsinchu City, Taiwan)

About ASME

ASME helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world.  For more information about ASME, please visit


For information on the 2014 ASME Student Design Competition, visit: