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Design Build Fly

Raised toward our $6,000 Goal
12 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on December 05, at 11:59 PM EST
Project Owners

Help us reach new heights in our annual competition!

The Team

Cornell University's Design Build Fly (DBF) project team is a student-run organization in which members develop, build, test, and optimize a custom radio-controlled aircraft to compete in the international DBF competition. The competition, sponsored by Textron Aviation, Raytheon, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, enables students to engage in the design process and to produce an aircraft that meets the requirements of a specified mission profile.

Cornell DBF provides interested students with a venue to apply theoretical coursework to formulate practical engineering solutions. By applying the same technology and manufacturing methods as industry professionals, our team provides graduating members with the knowledge and experience for success.




The Competition

The AIAA Design/Build/Fly competition challenges teams to create a high-performing aircraft within a specified mission profile. Held in Wichita, Kansas, or Tucson, Arizona, the competition is comprised of both a technical report and a flight performance evaluation. The written component is determined by evaluating the team’s engineering process for thoroughness, justification, and presentation. The second component is the mission score which assesses a team’s aircraft performance according to competition rules. These rules vary significantly each year, encouraging fresh designs and new innovations.

This year, we are being challenged to manufacture an unmanned aerial vehicle with a towed sensor. The competition is set to be held in Tucson, Arizona, in the spring.*

*Please note, while we anticipate that the 2020-2021 competition will be held as scheduled, the competition venue, dates, and/or rules may change depending on the progression of COVID-19 and accompanying safety regulations.


Your Impact

Your contribution allows us to produce durable aircrafts capable of meeting the stringent requirements of each year’s specified mission profile. The support of our sponsors has allowed us to keep designing and testing meticulously. Beyond providing students with valuable technical skills through the fabrication process, the challenges we’ve seen throughout the years have motivated us to continuously improve our aircraft designs and performance.

Again, thank you—your support is vital to the future success of the Design Build Fly project team and our efforts to cultivate a burgeoning class of engineers, and ultimately, place first in competition.

Choose a giving level


Cessna 172

Your donation will help us take flight.


Spruce Goose

Your donation will help us cover the cost of plane iteration materials.


Boeing 747

Your donation will help us reach new heights.



Your donation will help us explore new, advanced motors.


Bell X-1

Your donation will help us cover plane build costs for competition.


SR-71 Blackbird

Your donation will cover the cost of the materials to build one plane.