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Design Build Fly at the University of Washington

Raised toward our $6,000 Goal
36 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on January 31, at 11:59 PM PST
Project Owners

Design Build Fly at the University of Washington



Design, Build, Fly (DBF) at the University of Washington is a team of students from all disciplines looking to push the boundaries of aircraft design and engineering while providing a hands-on learning environment for prospective engineering students. Over the course of a school year, the team competes in the Design, Build, Fly competition held by the American Institute of Aeronautics, where its members work together to design, build, and test a remote controlled aircraft capable of completing the competition’s three flight missions. 

At its core, DBF is an organization dedicated to inspiring and educating young engineers, regardless of discipline. Our leadership team facilitates a team culture that values collaboration, communication and individual voice. All team members, regardless of age or experience level, have the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the conceptual design, fabrication and testing of the aircraft. Through the competition, student lectures, and opportunities to try new and innovative ideas, DBF hopes to provide its members with the chance to work in a realistic engineering environment, where each individual can get back in spades what they put in, where everyone has the opportunity to become better engineers. 





I joined Design, Build, Fly at the beginning of my freshman year as a way to apply everything I was learning in my classes to real life, and it has been a really great experience. I have been able to learn more about CAD, the basics of aviation, and how to work on a team. All the learning have done has been hands on, as all the designs and models of the airplane we are building is done by club members. So far, it has been an amazing way to learn new things about how I could apply engineering to my future career as an engineer. 

Caleigh Stagnone


Being a member of DBF the past 3 years has been an amazing all-around experience! Designing and building an airplane from scratch has both strengthened my understanding of coursework, as well as introduced me to unique and interesting topics and skills that are not taught at all at the undergraduate level. These experiences have helped jumpstart my career immensely, as they have played an integral role in my ability to land internships and jobs during my time in college. Beyond the educational experiences provided by DBF, it has also been an absolute blast! It is a great way to connect with tons of like-minded people, and even 3 years later I still always look forward to our group meetings despite how much work may need to be done. 

Christopher Bauer







My involvement in DBF has opened me up to experiences I would never have had the chance to experience. The anxiety of a 34 hour long 3D print of an 8 inch diameter nose cone mold and the relief once it’s finished is one of my more memorable experiences. Another has been the adventure of seeing though both the design and manufacturing process, all while coordinating with other teams. These experiences have not only netted me technical skills like applying epoxy with fiberglass but also valuable interpersonal skills like communication.


Jason Wu


At Design Build Fly, I’ve had the opportunity to work on something I’m really passionate about, with lots of great people to share that passion with. I’ve learned about parts of the research and design process for a brand new aircraft that I never would have learned in the classroom, while simultaneously having the opportunity to share some of the knowledge I’ve acquired elsewhere with others so that we can be more successful as a team. After a “long” 3 months of conceptual design, I absolutely cannot wait to see how our plane turns out!

Raymond Ingram


Design Build Fly has offered me a creative and competitive outlet for my passion in the field of aviation. When I complete tasks for the DBF team, I really feel as though I’m contributing to something new and exciting; seeing the culmination of my work leave the ground to complete a task is very satisfying. I also enjoy the pressure of tight deadlines and the experience in professional writing that the club provides. I have learned a lot and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Conner Knoth



Each year, over 100 teams from around the world enter the AIAA Design, Build, Fly competition. These teams will have the chance to bring their planes to the competition grounds in Wichita, Kansas or Tuscon, Arizona, where they compete to see which aircraft performs the best. This year, competition is held in Wichita, with the three following flight missions.

  1. A basic flight mission, where the plane must successive take off in a short distance, complete three laps, and successfully land within the allotted time. 

  2. A passenger mission, where the plane must successfully fly the three laps while loaded, and is scored on its maximum passenger load and speed, 

  3. A banner mission, where the plane must release a banner and complete the three flight laps with the banner fully deployed. 




This year, the team has meticulously crafted a design based on past experience. Using two powerful electric motors as propulsion, the plane will have a 5 foot wingspan and a nose-to-tail length of 32 inches, and it will be capable of carrying a passenger payload of 5 lbs accessible from the nose. The 5-foot long banner will be stowed and deployed from the primary vertical stabilizer on the tail. To support the weight of everything and handle the aerodynamic forces, the fuselage will be reinforced with four carbon fiber spars and wood ribbing spaced at even intervals. A fiberglass layup will also increase the strength of the skin, preventing it from deforming and minimizing damage from impacts and rough landings. To control the plane itself and all of its mechanisms, an avionics package will be integrated and powered using a separate battery. 






Funds raised for DBF will cover materials and manufacturing expenses, in addition to the cost of sending a team to Wichita, Kansas. Your donations will directly affect our ability to provide opportunities for our team, and every little bit helps! Thank you!




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Choose a giving level



Will let the team buy basic electronics and materials, the building blocks of our plane.



Will purchase tools and equipment the team will use for manufacturing



Allows the team to purchase the personal protective equipment necessary for one more student to work with composite materials.



Provides advanced electronic components that makes our plane stand out from the others



Will allow us to make a brand-new composite wing, all from scratch.



A reminder of where we started from and where we stood last year.


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