Senior Project Wins Design Competition at West Point

Posted: July 12, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

A team of six seniors taking the Systems Engineering and Operations Research (SEOR) senior design class in the School of Information Technology and Engineering recently won an award in the U.S. Military Academy’s Systems Engineering Capstone Design Competition, held at West Point. The team’s project, a helicopter air transportation system, won in the category of “institutional support.” Student teams from the U.S. Military Academy, George Mason, and the University of Virginia competed.

The seniors completed a two-semester study of the transportation problems and inefficiencies of the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area, which led to the design of a heliport network supporting an on-demand helicopter taxi system, dubbed State-of-the-Art Metropolitan Area Rapid Transportation System (SMARTS). According to George Donohue, professor of systems engineering, who taught the design class, the team showed that such a network “could be implemented pretty quickly at a low cost.”

Sabrina Dagostino, who led the team and also won an award in the Mason Enterprise Center’s contest for the business plan she wrote for SMARTS, had aspirations of taking the project further. She is now CEO of Helicopter Transportation Services Inc. (HTS Inc.). “Winning at West Point was wonderful for GMU, for the SEOR department, and for HTS Inc.,” says Dagostino.

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