Hybrid-Turboprop Aircraft; Aviation and Avarice

Richwine, Michael, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Forelle, MC, STS, UVA

The work for my technical project and my STS research paper are related through the
field of aviation. Aviation is a broad field involving anything that has to do with aircrafts, flight,
and operating aircraft. It is a constantly evolving field with many new emerging technologies and
new parts of the field that need regulating. My STS research paper details the importance of
regulation and performing ethical work in the field, while my technical project involves using
many of these principles to implement new technology in a more sustainable fashion.
The technical project focuses on the priority of increasing sustainability in the aviation
industry, and it is based on a challenge by the AIAA. My group is given a goal to design a hybrid
electric aircraft, using technology that is feasible by the year 2035, that can reduce fuel
consumption by 20% over a competing aircraft, and carry around 50 passengers. This compels us
to research the technologies and systems that are currently in development by the aviation
industry and use the design process to develop a culmination of the many technologies into a
concept that fulfills the requirements laid out by the AIAA Hybrid Turboprop Design Challenge.
While in the early stages of design we are required to rank the many aspects of the plane to
determine what we should focus on. By developing a more sustainable aircraft that utilizes
technology accessible in the future, we are hoping to encourage an increase in the use of
sustainable innovation practices as well as increase efforts to use said advanced technology in
other fields.
My STS research paper involves looking at how the commercial aviation industry has
become motivated by profits and has sacrificed safety, comfort, and sustainability. This will be
done through a case study of the Boeing 737 MAX scandal, which involved two crashes caused
by faulty software resulted from a rushed production cycle. I will also be analyzing other actions
done by the aviation industry that compromised comfort and sustainability of the industry. The
sociotechnical structure of Actor Network Theory will be used to give an in-depth analysis of the
Boeing 737 MAX scandal. The overall goal of this paper is to illustrate the importance of
performing ethical work in the aviation industry as well as almost every industry, and how easy
it is to fall down a slippery slope if one compromises morals.
Completing both projects simultaneously greatly improved the value of both projects,
mainly because my STS project is about the importance of acting ethically while developing an
engineering project, and my technical project is such an engineering project. Doing both of these
simultaneously showed me the ease at which one can cut corners during development, while also
showing me the importance of not cutting such corners. I think a lot of the long-lasting impact of
both projects would be lost if they weren’t done simultaneously since they both highlighted
important parts of eachother. Therefore, I think that it is important for future graduates to
perform a capstone project concurrently with a STS class and project.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Issued Date: