As a kid growing up in Luxembourg, Europe, Luc Bausch (’89, PC) loved building model airplanes and cars and spent hours at the local radio-control model aircraft field. He didn’t know it at the time, but all that play would become a labor of love — and a profitable business.
At his company, AeroRacers Inc., Bausch designs, tests and builds model aircraft, cars and even submarines using wood and competition-grade rubber bands. He sells the kits he creates to schools to promote “hands-on, brains-on” learning, as he calls it, doing his part to help develop the next generation of pilots and engineers.
But before his toys became an inspiration for children and adults, Bausch did a little flying and engineering himself. His love of engines and flight led him first to Embry-Riddle’s Prescott Campus, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering. After completing his degree, he landed a successful job as an international applications engineer at General Motors (GM). It wasn’t long, though, before Bausch ditched his corporate cubicle and established a business around his lifelong hobby.
Bausch speaks here about his personal journey:
AFTER FOUR DAYS at GM, I sat down at my cubicle and I remember looking around. ‘So this is it, huh?’ I said to myself, ‘Act now!’ I never wanted to be pinned down someplace. GM gave me the opportunity to do presentations at local schools which became part of my job. I always managed to bring up aeronautics while discussing automotive technology with the students. This led to class projects where we would build planes and fly them.
IT ALL STARTED, though, when I was at Embry-Riddle in 1989. I worked with a local store and produced my first glider kit. I started testing and making basic kits that were sold locally at the Prescott Valley hobby shop.
I’M AN EDUCATIONAL TOYMAKER. Everything I design, I write the curriculum for – so it’s designed for classroom use. All the products I manufacture are rubber-band powered. Rubber bands are simple, safe, inexpensive, and they allow you to make many changes easily. I want the kids to build it. I want them to test it, and using the engineering method, I want them to observe what it does. Then you make one change to see whether it makes a difference in the performance.
ON EASTER MONDAY 1991, I was still at GM when the local Flint, Mich., newspaper ran a front page article on me because I had just opened my own company, Bausch Aero Company. My boss knew then that I was doing something else. I quit GM shortly thereafter to run my business.
I INCORPORATED in 1998 as AeroRacers. All of my products are made on demand in the United States. I’m a one-man operation.
I HAVE A PATENT pending on the world’s only wooden submarine: Prop Divers. It teaches kids about buoyancy. I’ve had them run under water for up to 10 minutes. PropDivers feature a special ballast system that uses pennies. You can adjust the ballast to vary the angle and the depth of the dive.
I ALSO HOLD A PATENT on a flying-wing toy, called the FunShuttle. FunShuttles go up like a rocket, then glide like a bird, similar to the space shuttle.
DEVELOPING A NEW product can take several years. Generally they don’t work right at first. I have many different indoor-outdoor powered airplanes and gliders, and [in addition to the submarine] I recently developed a new dragster and motorcycle.
IT TOOK several years to develop my new drag race cars from initial idea to production. It’s basically Pinewood Derby on steroids. The power to the wheels is delivered through a differential. Many modifications are possible to improve the racer’s performance. I’m working with the National Hot Rod Association’s (NHRA) Youth and Education office to promote the Great American Dragster Derby (GADD) to students and teachers across the country. The inaugural GADD was held on Nov. 8, 2016, at the Pomona Drag Strip in California. The competition challenges students to work in teams building and testing their racers, raising sponsors, promoting their vehicles and then competing.
In 2003, Bausch was awarded Embry-Riddle’s Distinguished Alumni Award for his work with teachers and students, and in 2016, he was recognized by the Los Angeles County Industrial and Technology Education Association as Industry Person of the Year. He has hosted in the past glider-building activities at Embry-Riddle’s OctoberWest Alumni Homecoming Weekend in Prescott, Ariz., and from 2003-2009, he held the Great American Aero Derby, a summer camp for students at the Prescott Campus. He and his wife, Nanci (Moen) Bausch (’90, PC), met as students at Embry-Riddle and recently celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary. Learn more about Bausch’s products at aeroracers.com and dragsterderby.com.