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THE IDEA


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THE IDEA


 
 

Boeing will celebrate its 100th anniversary July 15, 2016. Inspiring the next generation of innovators is key to carrying on the company’s tradition of achievement for the next 100 years. Engineering and manufacturing companies like Boeing need creative people with technical know-how to maintain and grow their innovative edge. How do you rekindle the wonder of flight in young people and inspire them to contribute to the future of aerospace? By getting them to actually make a flying object with their own hands.

Introducing The Boeing Flypaper Project. Boeing knows when you combine art and science you build something better. So, we had Boeing engineers build better paper airplanes. Their designs were then turned into art. Then into posters. The design of the plane dictates the design of the poster. The instructions on how to fold the poster into the plane dictate the graphics. Beautiful on the wall. Beautiful in flight.

 
 
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The Engineers


The Engineers


Alexandra Sonnabend Flypaper 02

Alexandra Sonnabend Flypaper 02

What inspired you to be an engineer?

I always enjoyed math and science and, as a kid, I liked taking apart toasters and vacuum cleaners – I wanted to know how they worked!  Eventually, I recognized that I’m motivated to help people, to improve their quality of life and make the world a better place.  Being a mechanical engineer has empowered me to do so.  As a female engineer, it’s also pretty cool to challenge a gender-based stereotype.

 

What was the inspiration for your design?

From a technical standpoint, I wanted to keep the center of gravity of the plane as far forward as possible and maximize the surface area of the wings. As I started folding, I realized it was looking more and more like a beetle!

 

What would we find in your airplane design that is related/relevant to Boeing aircraft?

The wing tips are angled to maximize lift and stability. The plane was designed with the “pilot” in mind with a fold for better grip. It was also designed as a glider for smooth flight.


Elizabeth Benson Flypaper 01, Flypaper 03

Elizabeth Benson Flypaper 01, Flypaper 03

What inspired you to be an engineer?

I have always been good at math – my parents are both numbers people (accountant and finance analyst) who worked in business. They encouraged me to like math and worked to teach it to me. I remember asking my dad to write me word problems to solve on the airplane as a grade-schooler – I thought they were fun! In high school, physics was my favorite class, with math coming in second. I also liked to take things apart and build things – my parents weren’t much for working on cars and things – but I was the official toilet fixer in my home! When deciding what to do in college, I didn’t think I wanted to teach, so engineering seemed to be the best option for the application of physics and math (now I think I may also like to teach some day, but, luckily, an engineering degree leaves that option open).  I studied mechanical engineering at the University of Utah and then got my master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Washington while working.  Boeing was my third job following graduation – I found my first day rather special when I had the opportunity to walk out on the Boeing factory floor as an employee.  While studying mechanical engineering, I wasn’t committed to working on airplanes, but it ended up working out that way. When I was in middle school, my dad and I took the Future of Flight tour at Boeing – at that time I thought I might be interested in engineering and considered that some day maybe I would work there. Now, I have come full-circle some 10+ years later to actually be working on the factory floor I once peered down at as a child!

 

What was the inspiration for your design?

My first plane was based on a design that my babysitter taught me when I was around 5 years old.  We had a sunken living room at home and we had hours of fun launching airplanes from the railing—competing for distance and seeing what tricks they could do. I liked the airplane my babysitter taught me to build because it used a unique folding pattern, it flew a long distance, and it was durable. I’ve always liked building things, following directions, and figuring out how to make things better. For the larger paper size, I had to change the folding of the wings so they would be large enough to provide the plane with enough lift.

 

The second airplane also resembles an airplane I used to make as a child. I liked adding the extra folds that made it longer and skinnier, but which made it fly a lot faster. I also liked origami as a child and incorporated some origami-type folds at the wing tips to make them more interesting. Because I am working on the 777-9 Folding Wing Tip, I was always looking to incorporate a more interesting wing tip design in my airplane designs.

 

What would we find in your airplane design that is related/relevant to Boeing aircraft?

For both airplanes, I found that the center of gravity (CG) had to be located a bit forward to properly balance the lift provided by the wings for long flights.  The first airplane has a flat nose that makes it more crash-worthy and less likely to be damaged when colliding with (birds)? Also the wings had to be large enough to catch enough air to keep the plane aloft. The second airplane is very aerodynamic and looks like a military jet. I added the folds on the back of the wings to add some interest and make it look more like a fighter jet.


Mahesh Chengalva Flypaper 04

Mahesh Chengalva Flypaper 04

 

What inspired you to be an engineer?

LIFE magazine. OK, not the magazine itself, but the contents of one particular issue. I was a kid in the 1970s and my grandfather had preserved a special issue of LIFE magazine on the first landing on the moon. It was full of large, color photographs of the entire mission from start to finish. I was totally fascinated by that issue. I must have gone through each page hundreds of times. At that time, I did not even know what engineering was, but deep inside I knew I had to be a part of an achievement that big and amazing. As I grew up I realized that the landing on the moon – arguably the most incredible achievement of mankind to that point in time – was basically an engineering achievement. There was no turning back – I did not even consider a career other than engineering all the way from elementary school.

 

What was the inspiration for your design?

Commercial airplanes. For millennia distances were a huge barrier until the advent of commercial aviation and all of a sudden the world just shrank. One can look at commercial airplanes from multiple perspectives and still come out amazed. The graceful flight of a commercial jet landing, taking off or just cruising is something I wanted my paper airplane to emulate. It would have been much easier for me to make a paper airplane that resembled and flew like a rocket, but I wanted to try to capture the essence of a commercial airplane as much as possible.

 

What would we find in your airplane design that is related/relevant to Boeing aircraft?

The design of the airplane permits stable flight, which is a characteristic of all Boeing commercial aircraft. The paper airplane is also reasonably rugged, another feature of Boeing airplanes. The fuselage design in the paper airplane resembles that in a Boeing commercial aircraft in the sense that it is long and uniform in height from the front to the rear. The paper airplane design has a minimal number of folds, which makes fabrication easy. That’s a key design element of Boeing aircraft, which is referred to as “design-for-manufacturing.” Not only should the design be as elegant and simple as possible, but it should also be easy to fabricate.


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The Posters


The Posters


Where possible, Boeing is working to integrate the airplane designs into its K-12 education outreach programs as well as make the posters available to the public for purchase in its Boeing Stores.

The Boeing Flypaper Project. Combining art and science to build something better. Reawakening the aerospace engineer in all of us.

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Engineering Careers


Engineering Careers


Boeing is a company of bold innovators and dreamers. We are continually looking for ways to build it bigger, smarter, faster, stronger and better. At Boeing, our engineers share a passion to redefine what’s possible. To turn dreams into reality. To bring world-class innovation to market. Join us and you can design our next generation of amazing products. Whether your engineering expertise is electrical, structural, software or aeronautical, we have opportunities for you to learn, grow and contribute. Bring your ideas and skills to Boeing. You’ll be joining a company embarking on its second century of innovation.

Click here to explore careers at Boeing