Design Build Fly plane 2018 taking off
2018 Design Build Fly Plane

Clarkson’s Design-Build-Fly SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience & Design) team brought home a first-place trophy from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Design-Build-Fly student competition in Wichita, Kansas, this April.

The team’s creative design and hard work paid off as they swept the field of 77 teams from 16 countries for their first-ever win in this AIAA annual event.

The competition challenges collegiate teams to design, fabricate and demonstrate the flight capabilities of an unmanned, electric-powered, radio-controlled aircraft that best meets the specified mission profile.

Design Build fly Team
Clarkson's winning team with Professor Ken Visser. Photo Credit: John Blacksten/AIAA

The Clarkson team entered one of the lightest radio-controlled planes in the contest, made primarily of foam and weighing just 8 ounces. The 14-KV electric motor of this single-engine plane could propel the craft nearly 60 feet per second, and the plane’s wingspan was just 9 inches. Under the AIAA scoring system, this short wingspan and the plane’s light weight provided an advantage.[JS-j1]  The team’s design paper was also graded prior to the competition and was ranked second, which also contributed in the scoring formula.

Ken Visser, associate professor of mechanical & aeronautical engineering, is the team’s faculty advisor.