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  • Overleaf Help CUAir Take Off

    Posted by Kate on July 28, 2020

    CUAir_Members of the CUAir team with their autonomous unmanned aircraft Members of the CUAir team with their autonomous unmanned aircraft

    Overleaf is sponsoring Cornell University's Unmanned Air Systems (CUAir) team for the second year running!

    We're delighted with the reaction since they switched to using Overleaf for their technical documentation, which Sheel from the Design & Operations Team at CUAir sums up very succinctly:

    “Overleaf truly embraces a collaborative culture, and we’re proof of that. We’ll still be using Overleaf for next year’s journal paper; we’ve loved using Overleaf.”

    Sheel Yerneni, Design & Operations Team - CUAir

    Here's how they did it 😊


    • As part of their entry into an international competition, CUAir had to create a 15 page technical document
    • The team found that work on previous technical documents had been time consuming and frustrating due to a lack of collaborative functionality and ease of use
    • CUAir found Overleaf easy to use for LaTeX and non-LaTeX users
    • All team members were able to work on the document at the same time thanks to Overleaf’s collaborative features
    • CUAir were able to create beautifully typeset technical documentation quickly and easily for their entry.

    Cornell University Unmanned Air Systems (CUAir) is an undergraduate unmanned aerial system team and each year, the team competes in the annual Student Unmanned Air Systems (SUAS) competition against over 50 global teams.

    CUAir set out to design, build, and fly an autonomous unmanned aircraft for the competition which is capable of autonomous takeoff and landing, waypoint navigation, and object recognition and classification.

    A key part of the 2019 SUAS competition was producing a 15 page technical paper which provided details on the design and manufacturing elements related to the drone being showcased.

    Avoiding Technical Documentation Issues

    For previous entries to SUAS, CUAir had used Microsoft Word to create their papers, which they found time consuming and frustrating as the program didn’t lend itself well to creating and collaborating on technical documentation. A major issue for them was version control. They often had to email around multiple versions of the document to different team members for input. This became confusing and messy trying to keep track of the latest version and who was working on what.

    Some CUAir team members had previously used Overleaf for creating technical documentation and recommended it for their 2019 competition entry for SUAS.

    For SUAS 2019, the team was split into seven sub-teams, all working on different parts of their autonomous unmanned aircraft, with each team working on seperate parts of the paper. As such they identified that they needed a platform that could accommodate dozens of people working on the technical documentation simultaneously.

    CUAir_Overleaf ‘O’ logo on wing of CUAir unmanned aircraft Overleaf ‘O’ logo on wing of CUAir unmanned aircraft

    How Overleaf Helped

    As an easy-to-use, cloud-based LaTeX and Rich Text collaborative writing and publishing tool, Overleaf is built to help precisely with these types of submissions.

    Overleaf provided the CUAir team with a premium group account to work on their entry. This meant that all team members could view, edit and work on their paper either in LaTeX source mode or Rich Text simultaneously. This enabled all team members, whether a LaTeX expert or someone more familiar with WYSIWYG editors like Microsoft Word, to input and collaborate effectively.

    CUAir team members no longer had version confusion nor wasted time sending back and forth edits and variations of the paper. With Overleaf, the entire team worked collaboratively on the same document which automatically compiled on Overleaf servers. This and the track changes functionality enabled the whole team to understand changes being made across the document by various team members, and individual changes could be accepted or rejected as necessary.

    The team were also able to comment on other sections of the document, providing clear channels of communication without impeding the progress of other sub-teams’ work.

    Overleaf enabled CUAir to create a beautifully designed 15 page technical paper quickly and easily for the SUAS competition.

    “Overleaf truly embraces a collaborative culture, and we’re proof of that. We’ll still be using Overleaf for next year’s journal paper; we’ve loved using Overleaf.”

    Sheel Yerneni, Design & Operations Team - CUAir

    Get in Touch

    If you’re interested in how you can use Overleaf for collaborative projects you can sign-up for a free account today. Alternatively if you’re part of a team that are doing amazing things in Science or Mathematics get in touch with us about potential sponsorship - we’re always interested in supporting educational exploits using LaTeX.

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