American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Design

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Design/Build/Fly
Michael R. Lau, Jocelyn Pedroza
Mentor: Robert Liebeck
The Design/Build/Fly (DBF) contest is an annual, international, electric radio-controlled aircraft
competition, hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). As a team, the
University of California, Irvine Design/Build/Fly team must design, manufacture, and demonstrate the flight
capabilities of an aircraft that can best meet the specified mission rules within a six month time period and
document the entire design process within a written report. The competition provides real- world aircraft
design experience for UC Irvine engineering students by giving us the opportunity to validate our analytical
studies through practical application. The challenges posed by this year’s competition included flying with a 5lb. payload and dropping payloads while in flight. The UC Irvine plane design features a conventional plane
configuration and utilizes composites and extensive balsa work to reduce weight. This year the team was able
to integrate molding into various components throughout the plane, adding to the repertoire of
manufacturing techniques the team uses. The controls of the plane were coupled in sequence to minimize the
number of actuators, which was a heavily weighted element used in the competition scoring. The UC Irvine
DBF team received a high flight score and written report score, placing second out of 100 teams, continuing a
four-year streak of placing in the top two. In the future, the UC Irvine DBF team hopes to continue
improving the plane design, manufacturing techniques, and continue performing well in competition.