Published: March 3, 2018
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By: Zachary Houghton, Cal Poly Pomona
Category: Aerospace Engineering
Hashtags: #Aerospace #californiastatesciencefair #CSSF #Fabrication #homemadejetengines #Project #Propulsion #ramjet #Welding
As a kid me and my brother had always wondered if building a homemade jet engine was possible, and when the opportunity arose in 2008 to be a part of a science fair that potentially led to the state level, I did some digging, and we discovered that a Ramjet engine might be in our reach. So we did a ton of research, bought some materials, and eventually constructed a Ramjet engine. I documented every step of the process, from construction, to initial testing, to final results in a notebook, and this taught me the importance of keeping records when conducting experiments. We went through a lot of trial and error when we first attempted to get the engine running. We had issues with lack of fuel delivery (something that was actually never resolved entirely, we could still cause blowouts with our air source, a sign of too lean of combustion), went through several designs of flame holders, and conducted dozens of test runs. It was really amazing to actually come out the other side of this process with a Ramjet engine that produced positive thrust! I had always enjoyed all things aerospace related as a kid, but this was my first exposure to the research side of things and I really enjoyed it. Presenting this project at the district, county, and state levels was an awesome experience, and winning a sliver medal at the state level really capped things off. We continued to do demonstrations of the Ramjet engine at our homeschool group for over a year after we had concluded the project, and it was really enjoyable teaching people the mechanics and science behind the engine itself.