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Design Build Fly

Raised toward our $7,500 Goal
52 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on December 06, at 11:59 PM EST
Project Owners

Help us reach new heights in 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.

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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’s competition theme is electronic warfare, where teams will model military reconnaissance aircraft and perform similar missions. These include a staging flight, a surveillance flight with an electronics package, and a signal jamming flight with an antenna mounted on the wing. The competition is set to be held in Tucson, Arizona in the spring.


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.

One of our team leads, Adrian Lee recounts his experience thus far: "Being on Cornell DBF has been one of the best parts of my Cornell education. I've gotten to apply concepts taught in class while building a real aircraft, understand the aerospace industry while learning things not taught in the classroom and get to know a plethora of like-minded individuals passionate about future technologies in aviation. With your help, we'll be able to work with even more cutting-edge technology, continue to foster a hard-working team, and present our aircraft to the world at this years' competition in Tucson, Arizona. Please consider supporting our mission!"

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


Test Day Take Flight!

Your donation will help us conduct one more flight test and take our first steps!



Your donation will help two members cover the cost of AIAA membership fees, which are required for participating in competition.


Build Phase Tools

Your donation will help cover the cost of build phase tools.



Your donation will help us to explore new advanced motors.



Your donation will help cover the costs of software and hardware components used in calculations, scoring analysis, and building for our competition aircraft.


Aircraft Iteration

Your donation will help us cover the cost of more plane iteration designs!



Your donation will help three members get to the competition site.