Hovering Tigers take on the Tide

Hovercraft team


The orange craft can travel on land and water, and is supported by a cushion of pressurized air — a fan controls the lift and moves air behind the hovercraft, giving it forward motion.

Bicycle handlebars orient a rudder that controls turns. The team chose to race the orange craft because the vehicle has been the recent “guinea pig” in the team’s shop. It looks intimidating and complex, but according to Blackburn, it’s actually quite simple.

“This is kind of the next step up,” said Blackburn. “There’s lots of trial and error, and a lot of tweaking and adjustments.” He adds that there is plenty of skill available to build the vehicle because team members come from a variety of majors.

The Hovering Tigers team was formed in 2003 with help from former polymer and fiber engineering faculty member Fissal Abd Elhady, Peter Schwartz, the team’s current faculty adviser and department head, and technical adviser Jeff Thompson, who is the polymer and fiber engineering composites lab technician at Auburn. He supervises and assists students with work performed inside the lab and at testing sites.

“We have a number of ‘gearheads’ and some beginners in mechanics,” Thompson said. “It gives the students that grew up with grease under their fingernails a chance to put together their own creation and test it out in an exciting competition.”

The team gives students practical hands-on design experience, and provides cross-disciplinary interactions in a team setting. “It’s cool to see the stuff we’ve been learning in class and having a chance to put it into application,” said Blackburn.

“You don’t really have to know anything about this stuff,” said Cook, as she watched team member Fitzpatrick drive the craft across the open fields at Auburn’s Research Park on South College Street recently. “You just have to want to know about it. And you need to be OK with getting your hands dirty.”

[miniflickr photoset_id=72157633488725715/&sortby=date-posted-asc&per_page=7]

Comments are closed.