Perse student flying high after winning aeronautics lecture prize
12 Mar 2019
Hari Prasad (Lower Sixth) has won the prestigious Sir Michael Marshall Young Persons Lecture Competition after giving an ambitious and in-depth talk on ionic wind-powered aircraft.
Held by the Cambridge branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the competition is endorsed by the branch’s Honorary Life Vice-President Sir Michael Marshall, who is President of the Cambridge-based Marshall Group, and aims to encourage young people to engage with aeronautics.
Participants had to give a presentation on an aerospace engineering topic of their choice to a panel of judges. Hari spoke about an aircraft with no moving parts, such as turbo fan, turbine engine or propellers, which is instead powered by ionic wind – the airflow created when an electric current is passed between a thin and a thick electrode.
He said: “Ionic wind is a concept that was discovered in the 1920s but had been left behind in modern times because it had been decided it would be impossible to fly a plane using it. However, some MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) physicists actually managed to fly a plane using this technology in November 2018.
“I searched for ‘cool engineering’ on the internet and found out about it that way. I thought it looked really interesting to give a presentation on because it’s something I knew nothing about and it gave me the opportunity to learn something new.
“I was surprised to win because I was quite nervous when I was giving the lecture and the other speakers were very good. I’d like to thank my friend Jaeheon Shim and Perse teacher Dr Black, because they gave me feedback before I did the lecture and asked me some difficult questions, which really helped me when I was asked questions from the judges, so I think that was a key factor in helping me win.”
Having won the competition, Hari has a chance of further success as he will now be entered into the Royal Aeronautical Society’s NE Rowe National Lecture Competition.
Listen to Hari talk more about his findings below.