Clarkson’s Design-Build-Fly SPEED Team Takes to the Air!

The Clarkson University Design-Build-Fly SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience & Design) Team is getting ready to participate in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) 25th-anniversary Design, Build, Fly competition, being held virtually April 15-18th. Over the weekend they demonstrated a successful test flight.

The objective for this year is for teams to design, build and test a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) with a towed sensor. Missions will include delivery of the UAV, transportation of sensors in shipping containers, and surveillance by deploying, operating, and recovering a towed sensor.

This year, the team faced new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the team was able to work around those issues.

DBF team co-leader Josh Nagle ‘21, Aeronautical Engineering, said, “In terms of challenges due to COVID-19 restrictions, designing the UAV wasn’t too bad as most of it can be done online. However, building the plane was the real issue because of meeting size restrictions.”  

The AIAA Design, Build, Fly competition was started in 1996 by the AIAA Applied Aerodynamics, Aircraft Design, and Flight Test Technical Committees as an opportunity for university students to apply real-world aircraft design experience by giving them the opportunity to validate their analytic studies.

Student teams will design, fabricate, and demonstrate the flight capabilities of an unmanned, electric powered, radio-controlled aircraft which can best meet the specified mission profile. The goal is a balanced design possessing good demonstrated flight handling qualities and practical and affordable manufacturing requirements while providing a high vehicle performance.

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