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US University Aeronautics  Design Challenge 2016-2017

The Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate sponsors  a college level Aeronautics Design Challenge for US institutions only during the academic year 2016-2017.   Upper level undergraduates and graduate students from accredited US universities may compete in either area.

To assist colleges with later semester end dates, paper due date has been extended to no later than June 12, 2017.     This challenge is not open to non-US institutions.  We will only accept entries from US institutions. 

Alert:  Student teams may NOT consult with NASA engineers, employees, past competitors, or anyone doing contract or grant work in this area.    Students must show that their work is original and that only students were part of the design process.  The faculty advisor should verify that the work is original, done entirely by the students, and is free of plagiarism. 

A symposium for participating students, winners, and their faculty will be held in partnership with NASA Langley Research Center and others in the September or October time frame of 2017.

Two technical challenge areas are available for this academic year.  Students may choose one of the two.

Technical Area 1:   Supersonic Challenge 2016

Technical Area 2:  Low Noise Subsonic Challenge 2016

2015-2016 Challenge Winners News:

Three teams from the DEP challenge have been recognized as the top three papers from 17 different team entries.  The announcement has been posted on the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate pages:

The web story is here:

The winning designs are posted here:

Below is a copy of the 2015-2016 Challenge

Design a Distributed Electric Propulsion Commuter Aircraft 
Download a pdf copy here:   DEP Design Challenge 2015  and ERA goals chart

Send questions to


2015 Electric Four Seat Aircraft Challenge Winners

First Place, Graduate Level

Tom Neuman, Georgia Tech

First Place, Undergraduate Level

University of California, Davis Team led by Ethan Kellogg

Second Place, Undergraduate Level

University of California, Davis Team led by Louis Edelman

Third Place, Undergraduate Level

Virginia Tech Team led by Drew Sullivan

Honorable Mention

University of California, Davis Team led by Andres Zuniga

2014 HALE UAS for Hurricane Tracking Mission Challenge Winners

The Gobble Hawk, Virginia Tech, First Place Team

The QQ541-1 Trident, Purdue University, Second Place Team

The Big WAHOO, University of Virginia, Third Place Team

For images and more details on the 2014 winners:

 2013 UAS Firefighting Challenge Winners

Purdue University, First Place

Honorable Mention

  • Boston University
  • California Polytechnic Institute, Pomona Campus
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Wisconsin

NASA UAS Summer Internship Recipients

  • Kyle Smalling, California Polytechnic Institute, Pomona Campus
  • Brock Harden and Coryn Mickelson, University of Kansas
  • Jennifer Hull and Matthew Mannebach, University of Wisconsin