Each year,  the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, or AIAA, hosts a Design/Build/Fly competition, inviting students around the world to design, fabricate and demonstrate the flight capabilities of an unmanned, electric-powered, radio-controlled aircraft that can best meet the specified mission profile.

The Air Devils student organization represents the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University in the AIAA International Design/Build/Fly competition. Of the 127 schools with teams participating in the competition, ASU’s Air Devils won seventh place overall. 

The 2022 competition, hosted in Wichita, Kansas, was the first to be held in person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The AIAA presents a different design challenge to its competitors every year. This year’s challenge was to develop an aircraft that could successfully deliver environmentally sensitive vaccine vial packages.

“Since aerospace engineering major capstone projects are paper studies this club represents a great opportunity for aerospace engineering majors to actually design and construct an airplane for a competitive assessment,” says Timothy Takahashi, the Air Devils’ advisor and an aerospace engineering professor of practice in the School for the Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of the seven Fulton Schools.

Air Devils members come from a variety of backgrounds, each having their own influence that makes them best suited to work on certain components of the aircraft. But students still often face challenges that require them to learn completely different skills. This year, the aircraft’s payload handling system presented a challenge to the team members, who experimented with new software and techniques to build an effective device.

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