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University Aeronautics Design Challenge 2018-2019

Mission Possible: Self-Piloted Aircraft for Critical Rural/Suburban Needs

NASA invites students to propose very short takeoff and landing, multi-modal commuter aircraft designs that enable increased throughput of passengers and/or cargo in rural and suburban areas. These aircraft can take advantage of cost savings realized associated with cargo operations without requiring a pilot onboard the aircraft. Students are also asked to estimate the cost savings with removing the pilot from the passenger missions in future scenarios.

The FINAL Challenge document is now available to download at the link below.   (Note that any questions should be directed to   Subject line: Challenge Questions.  All Q&A will be posted  anonymously for all competitors to view. DO NOT contact NASA personnel to ask questions or have consultations about your designs . See the rules and restrictions below.)



1. Questions about either challenge should be sent to contest admin email:    Subject Line:  Challenge Questions

NASA responses will be posted along on our Question and Answer page.

2. This challenge is not open to non-US institutions.  We can only accept entries from US institutions. 

3. CONFLICT OF INTEREST AVOIDANCE :  Students and/or team faculty advisors may NOT contact or consult with NASA engineers, employees, or any person doing contract or grant work in the challenge area, including industry or academe during the time of the contest (Sept 2018-June 2019).

4.  OTHER CONFLICTS OF INTEREST:  University Faculty advisors who are receiving NASA or Industry funds should disclose the source of funding in the verification letter required for the student’s submission of an entry.  Funds received from NASA or Industry to perform research at the university in the same area as the challenge may be grounds for disqualification.  Please write to the contest administrator with questions about funding if you receive funds in the challenge area or if there is any question about a conflict of interest.

5. Students must demonstrate that their work is original and that only students were part of the design process from beginning to end.  See note 7:  The faculty advisor is responsible to verify that the work is original, done entirely by the students, and is free of plagiarism.

6.  A summary of a thorough literature review is required and should become the foundation of the design paper.

7. The faculty advisor is responsible to verify in their endorsement letter that the work is original, done entirely by the students, and is free of plagiarism.    The letter with this information is required with the entry files.

For information about ARMD programs, projects, and goals, please visit the following links.


******Winners of the 2017-2018 Design Challenge have been posted on the NASA HQ Challenge page.

A symposium for the winners is planned for Sept 20 at NASA HQ in Washington, DC.  Photos from the event will be posted the week after and social media @NASA Aero will be posting highlights during the event.

WINNERS OF THE 2016-2017 Design Challenge are posted here, along with Honorable Mention teams in both categories.  This URL is the direct link to the Winners Page:

2017 ARMD Design Challenge Symposium Attendees

The 2017 Symposium at NASA Langley’s Conference facility.

LAST YEAR’S CONTEST News:  A one-day symposium and tours for winners of the 2016-2017 was held late September of 2017.

Two technical challenge areas were available for the 2016-2017 academic year.

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 were  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

NASA UAS Summer Internship Recipients