Design Competitions

Team Aeroswitch (Politecnico di Milano)
Team Aeroswitch (Politecnico di Milano), 1st Place Graduate Team Aircraft Design, 2020

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.

Team Super Aerial Bros (University of Kansas)
Team Super Aerial Bros (University of Kansas), 3rd Place Graduate Team Aircraft Design, 2020

Several of the competitions allow students to perform 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 reviewed by experts in the field who will provide constructive responses to the students.

This year’s competitions 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!

*This competition is subject to all applicable laws, including US export laws. US law prevents AIAA from awarding prize money to, or providing substantive feedback on entries from, persons residing in Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Crimea, Sudan, or Syria.

 Competition Rules

Note to Report Submitters: Only the person who submitted the letter of intent may submit the final report. All materials, including letters of intent and final reports, must be submitted online via – AIAA will not accept for submission any materials mailed to the AIAA office. If no submission rules are listed in the RFP document, please follow all competition rules by clicking the button above.

If you would like a certificate of participation for your team, please e-mail us at Participation certificates will be provided only upon request and will be sent in electronic format only. You may make your request for a certificate up to 01 October of the same competition year.

Due to the high volume of final reports we receive, you must strictly adhere to formatting and membership requirements.

UPDATE:  2022 Engine Design Competition Status (Please click to read).

Design Competitions

2023 Design Competitions

If you have any more questions about the upcoming design competitions, please write to us at

Interested in submitting a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the AIAA Design Competitions program for 2023? Click here

RFPs are evaluated for selection on the basis of the following major criteria:

  • Is the RFP expected to generate student and/or academic interest? 
  • Does the RFP reflect plausible concepts to meet general, commercial, government, military or aviation or space needs?
  • Does the RFP appear to be a good instrument for teaching aerospace system design?
  • Does the RFP foster innovation? 
  • Does the RFP contribute to meeting ABET program requirements for a major design experience?
  • Does the RFP incorporate realistic design constraints (i.e. budget, economic, environmental, etc.)

Because RFPs are often assigned by instructors to their classes, AIAA encourages RFP originators to have “customers” (professors, universities) ready to use RFPs in their classes or curricula.

Please direct questions about RFP criteria to

2023 Design Competition RFPs
  • Team Roster & Proposal Information submitted via online submission site – 9 February 2023 (2359 hrs US Eastern Time)
  • Proposal submitted via online submission site – 12 May 2023 (2359 hrs US Eastern Time)
  • Announcement of Winners (via email) – August 2023 (Dependent on review committee schedule)

Engine [Gas Turbine] Design Competition:

  • Team Roster & Proposal Information submitted via online submission site – 30 October 2022, 2359hrs US ET
  • Proposal submitted via online submission site – 01 April 2022, 2359hrs US ET
  • Round 1 Evaluations completed – 01 May 2023
  • Round 2 proposal presentations & announcement of winners at a special session of the AIAA AVIATION Forum – Date TBD, June 2023 in San Diego, CA

View the  2022-2023 AIAA Engine Design Competition Flyer

Eligibility Requirements
  1. All student members are eligible and encouraged to participate. Team competitions will be groups of not more than ten student members per entry. Individual competitions will consist of only one student member per entry.
  2. Designs submitted must be the work of the students, but guidance may come from the Faculty/Project Advisor and should be accurately acknowledged.
  3. Design projects that are used as part of an organized classroom requirement are eligible and encouraged for competition.
  4. More than one design may be submitted from students at any one school.

All submissions to the competition shall be the original work of the team members.

Authors retain copyright ownership of all written works submitted to the competition. By virtue of participating in the competition, team members and report authors grant AIAA non-exclusive license to reproduce submissions, in whole or in part, for all of AIAA’s current and future print and electronic uses. Appropriate acknowledgment will accompany any reuse of materials.

Conflict of Interest

It should be noted that it shall be considered a conflict of interest for a design professor to write or assist in writing RFPs and/or judging proposals submitted if (s)he will have students participating in, or that can be expected to participate in those competitions. A design professor with such a conflict must refrain from participating in the development of such competition RFPs and/or judging any proposals submitted in such competitions.


*This competition is subject to all applicable laws, including US export laws. US law prevents AIAA from awarding prize money to, or providing substantive feedback on entries from, persons residing in Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Crimea, Sudan, or Syria.

The prize money provided for the competitions is funded through the AIAA Foundation. The monetary awards may differ for each competition, with a maximum award of $1,000. The award amounts are listed below.

The top three design teams will be awarded certificates. One representative from the first place team may be invited by the Technical Committee responsible for the RFP to make a presentation of their design at an AIAA forum. A travel stipend may be available for some competitions, with a maximum travel stipend of $750 which may be used to help with costs for flight, hotel, or conference registration to attend an AIAA forum.

Aircraft Design Competitions

  • Graduate Team Aircraft
    • 1st Place: $750; 2nd Place: $550; 3rd Place: $500
  • Undergraduate Team Aircraft – Thin Haul Transport and Air Taxi
    • 1st Place: $750; 2nd Place: $550; 3rd Place: $500

Space Systems Design Competition

  • Undergraduate Team Space Transportation
    • 1st Place: $750; 2nd Place: $550; 3rd Place: $500

Missile Systems Design Competition

  • Graduate Team Missile Systems Design Competition
    • 1st Place: $750; 2nd Place: $550; 3rd Place: $500
Frequently Asked Questions

What design software is recommended/required to enter into the competitions?
Recommended design software has been outlined in the relevant RFPs. Please refer to the RFP for more information.

How long does the final report have to be?
The final report must be no longer than 100 pages, double-spaced and in 10-point Times New Roman font. This includes all charts, figures, photographs, graphs, and references.

When will winners be announced?
Design competition winners are typically announced the following summer, however, announcement of winners is dependent on Technical Committee review and judging schedule.

How will entrants be notified of their placement in the competition?
AIAA will only notify a team of their placement if they place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in their relevant design competition. AIAA will not notify those teams that did not place.

AIAA will also send prize checks and recognition certificates following the conclusion of the competition, along with travel stipends if the relevant competition includes a trip to an AIAA Forum. For teams, prize checks will be sent payable to the winning university; for individuals, prize checks will be sent payable to the individual author on the final report.

Please note: This competition is subject to all applicable laws, including US export laws. US law prevents AIAA from awarding prize money to, or providing substantive feedback on entries from, persons residing in Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Crimea, Sudan, or Syria.

How will I be able to access judge comments and feedback on our proposal?
Feedback  will be sent to all teams via email and be made available on following the conclusion of the competition.

Can I team up with students from another university? What about another country?
Yes; AIAA allows students to form teams with other students around the world.

Does everyone on my team need to be an AIAA student member?
Yes, you must all be AIAA student members. Please visit to join.

I have another question that hasn’t been answered in these FAQs. Where can I ask it?
If you have submitted a letter of intent to participate in design competitions, you should have received an invitation to participate in a special Engage site that we created for design competitions. If you have not received an invitation, (or have not submitted a letter but would still like to ask a question) please send an email to

My team roster has changed. How do I update it?
If you have submitted your Letter Of Intent (LOI), you may update your team roster by writing to An admin must make this change for you. Please specify (1) the individuals you will be removing and (2) the names and e-mail addresses of those replacing them, if applicable. Please remember that all members of your team must be AIAA members, and membership will be verified.” 

How do we submit our final report?
All reports need to be submitted through You will need to login using your AIAA username and password, and then you will click “Needs Attention (1)” on the menu located on the left-hand side of the screen. Only the person who submitted the Letter Of Intent (LOI) may submit the final report.”

Previous Years' RFPs
Aircraft Design Competitions

Undergraduate Team Aircraft Design RFP
 Responsive Aerial Firefighting Aircraft

Graduate Team Aircraft Design RFP
 Hybrid-Electric STOL Air Taxi

Space Systems Design Competitions

Undergraduate Team Space Design RFP
 Martian Moon Exploration Excursion Vehicle

Missile Systems Design Competitions

Graduate Team Missile Design Competition RFP
 Reusable Penetrating Hypersonic ISR Platform

Engine Design Competition

Undergraduate Team (Trial for 2022 Only)
 Team Engine Design

Winning Reports