Press Release: VFS Selects Competitors for Annual Student Drone Competition

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November 21, 2023
Technical Programs Director
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The Vertical Flight Society Selects Competitors for Annual Student eVTOL Drone Competition

16 University Teams Competing in the 4th Design-Build-Vertical Flight Competition
Auburn in flight - SDC 2023
The University of Auburn team won first place in the 2023 VFS Design-Build-Vertical Flight Student Competition. (SURVICE Engineering photo by Tori Arcilesi)

Fairfax, Virginia — The Vertical Flight Society (VFS) today announces the selection of teams from 16 universities to compete in the fourth annual Design-Build-Vertical Flight (DBVF) Student Competition. The 16 academic teams involved in the competition represent universities located in 12 US states, plus Canada, India and Malaysia. The selection marks the largest number of academic teams to participate in the DBVF Competition since VFS launched the event in 2021.

The electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) DBVF competition seeks to encourage interest in uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) technology, and small air vehicle design and fabrication. The competition is designed to develop hands-on skills and familiarization with eVTOL and advanced air mobility (AAM) technology at the university student level, helping to prepare the next generation of engineers and leaders to push the limits of this exciting technology into the future.

VFS will award a total of $5,000 to the highest-scoring teams next spring, following a flyoff to be held on April 10-12, 2024. The Society is grateful for the support of Supernal, a leading developer of eVTOL aircraft, and a Gold-level sponsor of this year’s competition. Other sponsorship opportunities are available; to learn more, go to

The 16 selected teams are: 

  • Auburn University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Cooper Union for Advancement of Science & Art
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Kumaraguru College of Technology, India
  • McGill University
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Michigan
  • University Putra Malaysia
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology

The final selected teams will compete head-to-head in a flyoff at Harford Airport in Churchville, Maryland, from April 10-12, 2024. SURVICE Engineering is hosting the DBVF flyoff via its Applied Technology Operation (ATO) facility for the second year in a row. 

The non-profit Vertical Flight Society is the world’s premier vertical flight technical society. Since it was founded as the American Helicopter Society in 1943, the Society has been a major force in the advancement of vertical flight. VFS is the global resource for information on vertical flight technology. For more than 80 years, it has provided global leadership for scientific, technical, educational and legislative initiatives that advance the state of the art of vertical flight.

VFS hosted the world’s first electric VTOL technical meeting in 2014, launched the world’s first eVTOL eNewsletter in 2016, world’s first dedicated eVTOL website in 2017 (, the world’s first eVTOL short course in 2018, and the world’s first hydrogen-electric aviation symposium in March 2022.

VFS is @VTOLsociety on social media: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Mastodon, TikTok, Threads, Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube, and has @ElectricVTOL channels on Facebook, Mastodon and Twitter.

This press release is also available as a pdf.

The Vertical Flight Society
2700 Prosperity Ave, Suite 275, Fairfax, VA 22031 USA
+1-703-684-6777 | |