Mechanical Engineering (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Marcel Ilie


The advancement of aviation and drone technology requires further development and refinement of existing technologies. This thesis investigates the use of piezoelectric actuators to control the wings of drone-craft by performing as an aileron. Tests were conducted by extracting existing deformation data on a piezoelectric actuator and implementing them into official NACA airfoil designs. The original and modified airfoils were modeled in SolidWorks to reflect accurate wing deflections. Three wing designs were modeled for each airfoil type. The first was the original, unmodified airfoil design, while the second and third were unpowered and fully powered piezoelectric actuator reactions at zero and five hundred volts. The models were imported to ANSYS and simulated using CFD components. The models were subjected to velocities of 10 m/s and 30 m/s to represent approach and landing speed, and higher altitude cruising speeds. The results were evaluated by specifying measurement locations for pressure, velocity, lift, and drag. The pressures and velocities were used to observe concentrations in the wing while the lift and drag values were obtained as data to determine how much lift and drag the piezoelectric actuator produced after installation and under power. By knowing lift, a judgment was able to be made on whether using piezoelectric actuators as ailerons proves as an effective alternative to traditional methods. The drag was compared against lift to ensure that the actuator installation did not produce excess drag during flight.