Design Build Fly
April 2020

AIAA Announces 2020 Design/Build/Fly Winners

On 24 April, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) announced the winners of the 24th annual AIAA/Textron/Raytheon Missile Systems Design/Build/Fly (DBF) Competition.

Originally scheduled for 16–19 April in Wichita, Kansas, the Design/Build/Fly fly-off was cancelled to safeguard the health of the national and international teams due to the coronavirus pandemic. AIAA has gathered footage of many 2019–2020 teams flying their aircraft at home

The competition is divided into two sections—a fly-off and a formal report. The formal report part of the competition did continue. 

The 2019–2020 winners are:

  • First Place ($3,000 and $100 for Best Report Score): University of Southern California
  • Second Place ($2,000): Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Third Place ($1,500): University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“The Design/Build/Fly Competition is a highlight of the year and we sorely miss the enthusiasm, talent and creativity on display at the fly-off,” said Dan Dumbacher, AIAA executive director. “Aerospace trains us to adapt to the unexpected. It’s a good lesson for students as they enter this vibrant and meaningful field. I, for one, am enjoying the home videos of the teams flying their aircraft. Congratulations to the winning teams!”

Learn More


Georgia Tech

RWTH Aachen University

University of Washington

Watch all of this year's videos on AIAA's YouTube channel.

About Design/Build/Fly

The AIAA through the Applied Aerodynamics, Aircraft Design, Design Engineering and Flight Test Technical Committees and the AIAA Foundation invites all university students to participate in the Cessna/Raytheon Missile Systems Student Design Build Fly competition. The contest will provide a real-world aircraft design experience for engineering students by giving them the opportunity to validate their analytic studies

Student teams will design, fabricate, and demonstrate the flight capabilities of an unmanned, electric powered, radio controlled aircraft which can best meet the specified mission profile. The goal is a balanced design possessing good demonstrated flight handling qualities and practical and affordable manufacturing requirements while providing a high vehicle performance.

To encourage innovation and maintain a fresh design challenge for each new years participants, the design requirements and performance objective will be updated for each new contest year. The changes will provide new design requirements and opportunities, while allowing for application of technology developed by the teams from prior years.