AAM Support University “Design, Build, Fly” Projects

The Arvada Associated Modelers (AAM) has, for many years, made efforts to give back to the community. In 2014, this effort was furthered by moves to actively support local University aviation-related projects. The club created an “Education Coordinator” position, with a primary duty to support and enable university groups. This year, AAM supported the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) and University of Colorado (CU) student teams in their efforts with an international Design, Build, Fly (DBF) competition.

DBF is an annual competition where student teams from around the world create model, radio control, aircraft to meet a set of given criteria and to complete designated “missions”. Teams are typically clubs, extracurricular, and supported with limited university funding.

The missions this year required the students to design two aircraft:

  • The “Production Aircraft”, which was to carry a payload of a 32oz bottle of Gatorade™.
  • The “Manufacturing Support Aircraft”, which is designed to carry the Production Airplane internally.

Rules and criteria favored, limited, or specified: batteries, weight, and number of pieces the production aircraft dis-assembled into.

The 2016 Design/Build/Fly Competition Flyoff was held in Wichita, KS, April 15-17, 2016. The event is organized and put on by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and is sponsored by the AIAA Foundation, Cessna and Raytheon. This was the 20th anniversary year since the original competition. A total of 145 entries were received, 93 teams were selected for the next phase, and 69 teams attended the Flyoff (25 international). Over 625 students, faculty, and guests were present.

The CSM team approached AAM in order to utilize AAM’s flying facility. The team consisted entirely of Mechanical Engineering students and had a talented student pilot. We arranged access to the AAM field as requested, where they performed numerous test flights.

The CU team not only needed a testing facility, but needed help flying their designs. AAM members/pilots Dan Underkofler and Joe Pirozzoli volunteered to assist. Test flights were scheduled around weather and personal schedules and were, to say the least, not entirely satisfactory. Nevertheless, Dan generously volunteered to take the planes, support equipment, and several students in his motorhome to the Kansas competition.

Dan and Joe also had the opportunity to support other DBF Teams including North Dakota State, Cornell University, and PES University (India). With their assistance, Cornell finished impressively in 8th place.

While neither CSM nor CU were in the hunt for victory, both teams were satisfied with the success they did have. What impressed us the most was the time, effort, and perseverance that the teams displayed in the face of all the obstacles encountered that weekend. We are excited about being involved with DBF next year and hope to be involved earlier in the project to lend advice in addition to facilities and piloting expertise.

Dan Underkofler
AAM Education & Research Coordinator

Posted in CU AES.