Student Design Competition

GT-SDC-2013-UG.JPGThe 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

2016 – Bell Helicopter
2017 – Sikorsky Aircraft 
2018 – U.S. Army Research Lab
2019 – Airbus
2020 – Leonardo Helicopters
2021 – The Boeing Company
2022 – Bell Helicopter
2023 – Sikorsky Aircraft

Winners to be announced in August!

38th (2021) RFP (Boeing Co. Sponsor) also coming in August


37th Annual Student Design Competition

"Leonardo's Aerial Screw: 500 Years Later"

Sponsored by Leonardo Helicopters

Da Vinci's Aerial Screw (b&w)

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 Vehicles"

Sponsored by The Boeing Company

2015 SDC Entries Summary

31st Annual Student Design Competition


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 all 35+ years of competitions and past winners!

Updated 2019-08-21