Student Design Competition

SDC Winning Entries 2010-2020The Vertical Flight Society's annual Student Design Competition challenges students to design a vertical lift aircraft that meets specified requirements, provides a practical exercise for engineering students at colleges and universities around the world and promotes student interest in vertical flight technology. Each of the winning teams is awarded a cash stipend, while each of the first-place winning teams are invited to the Vertical Flight Society's Annual Forum and Technology Display to present the details of their designs. Members of the teams receive complimentary registration to the Forum, the vertical flight industry’s principal professional technical event, which promotes vertical flight technology advancement.

The Student Design Competition sponsorship rotates between Airbus, The Boeing Company, Bell, Leonardo Helicopters, Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Co.; and US Army Research Lab. Through this partnership, VFS is able to reach the best and brightest students in the world and encourage them to pursue education and careers in vertical flight. VFS is grateful for the continual support that industry provides for its annual Student Design Competition, and proud of all students who elect to participate. Information is available on past winners.

Rotating Sponsors

2023 – Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Co.
2024 – U.S. Army Research Lab
2025 – Airbus
2026 – Leonardo Helicopters
2027 – The Boeing Company
2028 – Bell

40th Annual Student Design Competition

High Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HSVTOL) Aircraft

RFP Now Available!

Sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Co.


39th Annual Student Design Competition

eVTOL Air Taxi for Passengers with Reduced Mobility (PRM)

Winners to be Announced Soon!

Sponsored by Bell

  • The 39th (2021-2022) SDC RFP is sponsored by Bell. Download the 2021-2022 Request for Proposal (RFP).
  • Thank you to the 14 teams that submitted their final design proposals which are now under review by the Bell sponsor and SDC committee.
  • Winners will be announced in mid-August.
  • VFS recommends that you read the white paper Student Design Competition on Judging.

38th Annual Student Design Competition

2025 Unmanned Vertical Lift for Medical Equipment Distribution

Sponsored by The Boeing Company

2021 SDC First Place Winners

  • The University of Maryland takes top honors in both graduate and undergraduate categories. The University of Kansas is recognized as best new undergraduate entrant. VFS Press Release, August 16, 2021
  • Executive Summaries of the winning proposals available on the SDC Past Winners page.
  • Download the 2020-2021 Request for Proposal (RFP).

37th Annual Student Design Competition

Leonardo's Aerial Screw: 500 Years Later

Sponsored by Leonardo Helicopters

VFS SDC 2020 Winner Graduate Category Elico UMDVFS SDC 2020 Winner Undergraduate Category SolidityOne - Delft University of Technology
  • The University of Maryland team takes top honors in the graduate category. Delft University of Technology takes first place and new entrant in the undergraduate category. VFS Press Release, August 13, 2020.
  • Executive Summaries of the winning proposals available on the SDC Past Winners page.
  • Download the 2019-2020 Request for Proposal (RFP).

36th Annual Student Design Competition

Extreme Altitude Mountain Rescue Vehicle

Sponsored by Airbus

UMD Caladrius 2010UMD/Universidad Carlos III Tahr 2019
  • University of Maryland takes first place in the graduate category. The joint University of Maryland/Universidad de Carlos III (Spain) collaborative team also takes top honors in the undergraduate category. VFS press release, August 21, 2019
  • Executive Summaries of the winning proposals available on the SDC Past Winners page.
  • Download the Airbus 2018-2019 Request for Proposal.

35th Annual Student Design Competition

A Reconfigurable VTOL Aircraft

Sponsored by the U.S. Army Research Lab

UMD Kwatee 2018UMD MetalTail 2018
  • The joint University of Maryland/Nanjing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics collaborative team takes first place in the graduate category. The University of Maryland also takes top honors in the undergraduate category. VFS press release, August 15, 2018.
  • Executive Summaries of the winning proposals available on the SDC Past Winners page.
  • Download the AHS-US Army 2017-2018 Request for Proposal.

34th Annual Student Design Competition

24 Hour Hovering Machine Conceptual Design

Sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Co.

 

2017 SDC Winning Entries


33rd Annual Student Design Competition

Air Launched Unmanned Disaster Relief Delivery Vehicle

Sponsored by Bell Helicopter

Halcyon 1st UnderGrad Nanjing Univ

32nd Annual Student Design Competition

Distributed Logistics in an Urban Setting Using
Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Sponsored by The Boeing Company

2015 SDC Entries Summary


31st Annual Student Design Competition

X-VTOL Logo

Sponsored by AgustaWestland (now Leonardo Helicopters)

Georgia Tech XV-58 Manta First Place Graduate St. Louis University Heli-Fast 1st Place Undergraduate


30th Annual Student Design Competition

The HealCopter

Sponsored by Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters)

1st Place Graduate Winner - UMD HeliX   1st Place Undergrad Winner - Penn State Griffin

29th Annual Student Design Competition

Rotary Wing Pylon Racer

Sponsored by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation

1st Place Grad Winner - UMD    1st Place Undergrad Winner - Ga Tech Badger 2012

Read more about our 35+ years of competitions and past winners!

Updated 2020-09-01