3 students from SRM University offer peek into ‘silent’ aircraft Three aerospace engineering students from Chennai have landed in London, with a project to create the aircraft of the future with zero propulsion noise. The team from SRM University has reached the finals of a global competition organised by aircraft manufacturer Airbus and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). The team, comprising Balakrishnan Solaraju Murali, Michael Thomas and Anita Mohil, is among the five groups that have made it to the finals of the 'Fly Your Ideas' competition that saw 6,000 students in 618 teams from 82 countries vie for the 30,000-euro top prize. The other teams in the final are from Australia, Brazil, Italy and Malaysia. Ideas floated in the competition included planes powered by body heat, luggage floating on a bed of air or even an aircraft running on liquid methane. The SRM team's top line idea is called 'Engine Air Cooling System for Noise Reduction.' The trio has found a way to reduce propulsion noise by modifying the shape of the jet exhaust using intelligent materials (shape memory alloys). The final hurdle will see students present their ideas to a jury of Airbus and industry experts at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse on June 12. The winning team will receive the 30,000-euro prize with the runners up bagging 15,000 euros. The winners will be announced at an exclusive ceremony at Unesco's headquarters in Paris on June 14. Aerospace engineers from across the world had to create the aircraft of the future, covering one of six themes identified by Airbus as the key 21st century challenges for a greener aviation industry. These included addressing energy need, efficiency, affordable and traffic growth, passenger experience and community friendliness. Charles Champion, Airbus' executive vice president, engineering and Fly Your Ideas patron said, "The entries were assessed by experienced Airbus engineers who were extremely impressed by the quality of work and innovation. These talented students from around the world represent the future of our industry and I am looking forward to welcoming them to Toulouse for the final round." Throughout the competition, Airbus mentors have worked with the teams to provide guidance and support with their projects in addition to a member of staff from their university. Airbus and Unesco say competitions like this are becoming increasingly important after a study from the McKinsey Global Institute revealed innovation could be under threat from an engineering skills gaps that could be hitting the economy hard. McKinsey forecasted that high-tech companies will face a shortfall of 40 million skilled workers by 2020, with aerospace likely to suffer, along with motor and the medical equipment sectors.

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