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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!



Undergraduate Individual Aircraft Design



Uninhabited Combat Air Vehicle


More Info >



Undergraduate Team Aircraft Design Competition


Next Generation Strategic Airlift Military Transport 


More info > 



Graduate Team Aircraft Design Competition


VSTOL Air Taxi


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 >




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 Stephen Brock:

Phone: 703.264.7536
Fax: 703.264.7551