ISU Campus Connection
4 June 2004
By Jennifer Wilson
Indiana State University’s
Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and Society
of Automotive Engineer (SAE) have teamed up to
build a hovercraft. The students hope to enter
a few races in the fall of 2004 …
With encouragement from Chris Fitzgerald, founder
of the World Hovercraft Organization and president
of Neoteric Hovercraft, Inc., in Terre Haute, the
ISU team has spent long hours planning, designing
and building their hovercraft from a material kit
purchased from Universal Hovercraft in Harvard,
Ill. The materials kit the ISU team is using consists
of plywood, foam, fiberglass, epoxy, contact cement,
PVC-coated nylon, a propeller, an aluminum hub,
a 10 horsepower Tecumseh engine, and screws and
The purchase of the kit was made possible by a
donation of $1,060 from the local parent chapter
of SME 275. The local chapter 275 has been a big
supporter of the ISU student chapter 089.
A team of 15 ISU students began working on the
Hovercraft project in January 2004.
“A lot of SME guys are graduating and we
really wanted to do something before we were gone,” Dave
Oelschlager, a senior from Columbia City, Ind.,
The students downloaded a set of hovercraft blueprints
from www.DiscoverHover.org, the website of the
World Hovercraft Organization’s International
School Hovercraft Program, which provides hovercraft
plans and instructions at no charge to students,
schools and youth organizations. The ISU team then
began a redesign of the original blueprints.
According to Oelschlager, who is heavily involved
in the project, the redesigning of the blueprints
took well over 70 hours of volunteer work. Through
the use of AutoCAD and Pro-E, junior high and high
school students can easily understand the new blueprints.
Rob Wilson, Neoteric Hovercraft’s Technical
Director in Australia, is currently reviewing the
new plans for accuracy.
“ISU is playing a key role in taking the
DiscoverHover Build-a-Hovercraft School Project
to schools and students throughout the world by
creating a prototype project for the program and
improving the original plans,” said the
marketing director for Neoteric Hovercraft
and the World Hovercraft Organization.
James Smallwood, chairperson and professor of
manufacturing/construction technology and Mike
Hayden, professor of industrial/mechanical technology,
serve as advisers to the students.
“When an organization does a project like
this, it gives students additional real-life, problem-solving
skills,” Smallwood said. “They are
not only doing the work, they are managing a project.
We’ve learned that, all else being equal,
a manager who has experience in the technology
behind a project is a better manager than one who
does not have that experience, we’re preparing
Hovercraft operate by floating on a cushion of
air over land, water, ice and mud. “They’re
very environmentally friendly, with little impact,” Herring
continued. “A hovercraft can be flown over
a nest of bird’s eggs without harming them."
The photo above was taken at the end of spring
semester, 2004. Students were able to get the craft
running around Campus, but it still needs to be
painted and fine-tuned.