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The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

is the world's largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession.

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    Design Competitions
    Israeli-team-HeroUSC Poses with other teams - DBFTop Three Planes - DBF
    The Israeli Team received the highest report score (ever) 98.5
    USC got together for a team photo, then all of the remaining teams joined in
    Top Three Teams with Planes: USC, Purdue, and Georgia Tech

    Design Competitions

    The AIAA Foundation sponsors design competitions every year. These competitions offer a great opportunity for students to participate in a simulated real-world problem, allowing students to gain experience and receive useful and constructive feedback from technical experts who sit on AIAA Technical Committees.

    Several of the competitions allow students to do theoretical work and gain real-world insight into the design process. Whether students are designing an aircraft, engine, or space vehicle, they will go through all of the primary design steps involved in determining a solution to a Request for Proposal (RFP). This includes determining a hypothetical solution, testing the hypothesis, evaluating its effectiveness, possibly doing some cost analysis, and finally preparing a report that will be submitted in response to the RFP. These responses are then reviewed by experts in the field who will provide constructive responses to the students.

    This year’s competitions (2014-2015) are listed below.  Show the world you've got the right stuff in design, and you may win cash prizes while you're at it!

    WIN, PLACE, and SHOW!

    Undergraduate Individual Aircraft Design Competition 


    Uninhabited Long Range Strike Vehicle  


    Design provisions for the flight crew of combat aircraft place many constraints on the vehicle and its performance. Numerous cost and weight penalties are associated with systems that are necessitated only or largely by the presence of a human pilot including displays, switches, g-seats, g-suits, oxygen, pressurization, and other environmental control systems. The aircraft’s maneuver capabilities are limited by the pilot’s physiological limits such as g tolerance, susceptibility to disorientation, or even physical endurance. With pilots onboard, all aspects of the aircraft design process are strongly impacted. The aircraft size, shape, and configuration arrangement are affected.


    More Info >



    Undergraduate Team Aircraft Design Competition


    Next Generation Strategic Airlift Military Transport


    The strategic airlift capability of the armed forces is undergoing considerable modernization to extend the life and augment the overall performance of the current fleet. Just as this modernization has resulted in considerable mission performance improvements over the previous generation of aircraft, it is expected that the next generation will provide major improvements over the present one. This RFP is for the design of a next generation strategic airlift military transport with an assumed 2030 entry into service (EIS).


    More info >



    Graduate Team Aircraft Design Competition


    VSTOL Air Taxi


    Considering the extensive amount of time people in metropolitan areas spend commuting to and from work each day, is there a solution using an aircraft to improve the quality of life of the US population? Specifically for example the New York and San Francisco metropolitan areas, there is significant congestion on roadways due to geographic bottlenecks. Many of these bottlenecks are cause by real estate limitations preventing the construction of more roads and by bridges and tunnels required to cross water. Rail solutions allow greater capacity, but the extensive infrastructure cost prevents these systems from becoming ubiquitous. Aviation is not constrained in the same way as surface transportation systems.


    More info >



    Undergraduate Team Space Transportation Design


    Design of Reusable Orbital Transfer Vehicle 


    Many recent space transportation studies suggest the use of Earth–Moon Lagrangian Points L1 or L2 as a gateway for Lunar, Near Earth Asteroid, and Mars exploration. The intent of the reusable Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV), which is the subject of this RFP is to support a Lagrangian Point Gateway Station hosting a Reusable Lunar Lander.


     More Info >



    Undergraduate Team Engine Design Competition


    Ultra-High Bypass Ratio Turbofan Engine for the Future


    Major engine manufacturers are continually assessing and revising their technical & business plans to ensure that their vision reaches into the next decade.  In the commercial aviation market, replacement engines for new generations of the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 & A350 airplanes are currently being considered.  Very recently Rolls-Royce revealed its road map for the future(1), whereby it will extend its Trent 1000 and Trent XWB engine programs to address significantly higher bypass ratios, further improvements in propulsive efficiencies at cruise and reduced fuel burn & emissions for long range travel in 2025 and beyond.  This Request for Proposal asks that you also look to 2025 and design a new 3-spool, high bypass ratio turbofan for entry into service around that time for use on twin-engine, wide-body passenger and freight aircraft.  Your primary objective is also reduced fuel burn, as a result of higher propulsive efficiency at cruise conditions.

    A generic model, representative of 3-spool current systems is supplied as a baseline engine.  You should model this engine with your design system to provide a viable basis reference for improvement.  You are then required to retain the core of the baseline design and generate a new LP/IP system that fits around it, using aerodynamic similarity.  A simple but typical, multi-segment, extended mission should be constructed that covers both design-point and off-design engine operations.  Such a mission will also test propulsive efficiencies at cruise and reduced fuel burn specifically and should be “flown” using both engines.  The performance characteristics and total fuel consumption of both engines should be estimated over the mission and stated clearly in the proposal.  The benefits of the new design should be clearly stated.  Special attention should be paid to engine mass, dimensions & integration with the aircraft.  Technical feasibility is critical and operating costs should also be considered. 


    More Info >


    Graduate/Undergraduate Design/Build/Fly Competition
    Every year the AIAA Foundation with assistance from several AIAA Technical Committees and corporate sponsors Cessna Aircraft Company and Raytheon Missile Systems, sponsors a competition for students to design and build a remote-controlled aircraft to perform specific tasks. Students then come together to face off against each other in April. For specific information about the Design/Build/Fly Competition, please visit the DBF website. Rules, team lists, external resources, and the ongoing FAQ are all maintained there.


    More Info >

    Visit DBF website >


    CanSat Competition

    The AIAA Foundation also cosponsors a CanSat competition. This competition requires students to build a small satellite with telemetry that can be launched in a rocket several thousand feet in the air. Telemetry results and presentation determine the overall winner. For more information, please visit



    Design Competitions typically have monetary prizes for winners. Prizes may vary in amount based on the competition type and the funding available. Additionally, first place winners may be invited to make a presentation at an AIAA Forum.


    In general, Letters of Intent are due 31 January every year, and proposals are due in June. The exception is the Design/Build/Fly competition. See the DBF website for deadlines concerning the Design/Build/Fly Competition.

    For more information on design competitions, please contact Rachel Andino:

    Phone: 703.264.7577
    Fax: 703.264.7551