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“They see a problem and they go and solve it,” Mr. Nagaraj said. “We just keep going.”

He said if the team can’t reach the prize goal this weekend, the hope is to try again in the summer.

Despite the frequent setbacks that engineering teams can experience, Mr. Hirschberg said he and the helicopter society are confident the prize eventually will be won.

“Some don’t think so,” he said, “but the reason we believe it’s possible is the work that the teams do. Each try comes so close — tantalizingly close. We believe it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”