College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Student team to participate in national custom-built aircraft competition

Design Build Fly team members with plane

Design Build Fly team members with plane

A team of Iowa State University students are headed to Wichita, Kansas as entrants in a nationwide competition sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

AIAA Design Build Fly logoIowa State University’s Design Build Fly (DBF) team has built a functional, radio-controlled aircraft for the 28th Annual AIAA Design Build Fly Competition April 18-21. This international engineering challenge hosts more than 100 teams competing with aircraft made from scratch.

Iowa State Department of Aerospace Engineering’s Make To Innovate (M:2:I) student program has assisted the team by providing funding and laboratory space for work on their aircraft. The program has also offered professional guidance with the logistics of competition, allowing team members to improve their leadership ability and technical skills.

The contests provides a real-world airplane design experience for engineering students by giving them the opportunity to validate their analytic studies. Student teams design, fabricate, and demonstrate the flight capabilities of an electric powered, remote-controlled airplane that can best meet the specified mission profile. The goal is a balanced design possessing good flight handling qualities and practical and affordable manufacturing requirements while demonstrating high vehicle performance.

The objective for aircraft tasks varies with the competition each year. The objective for this year is to design, build, and test an airplane to demonstrate Urban Air Mobility (UAM) missions. Flight missions will include delivery of the airplane, medical transport, and urban taxi. Payloads carried by the craft will include pre-fabricated miniature crew members, emergency medical technicians, medical supply cabinet, patient, gurney and passengers.

Cash prizes are awarded for top finishers, with $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second and $1,500 for third. The winning team may be invited to present their design at an AIAA conference. The team with the best report score will receive a $100 prize from the AIAA Design Engineering Technical Committee.

Iowa State’s DBF team is hopeful of the “manufacture two additional airplanes while maintaining a rigorous flight-testing regimen,” said project manager Justin Pope.