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College Students Tackle Boeing's Design-Build-Fly Challenge

Engineering students at eight U.S. universities are teaming up to tackle a daunting challenge: to learn, over 28 weeks, enough about aerodynamics, manufacturing and collaboration so that they can design, build and fly an aircraft.

The students are getting a taste of what it’s like to work as an engineer in aviation. They’re using innovative computer design tools to address issues of vehicle stability and control, exploring ways to collaborate via social media, and experimenting with 3-D printers to build parts for an unmanned aerial system or ‘drone’ aircraft.

This experiential learning stems from a unique competition: Boeing’s innovative, award-winning program called Aerospace Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering (or AerosPACE). Modeled after NASA’s systems engineering workflow, the AerosPACE design process focuses on conceptual, preliminary and detailed design as well as prototyping and design for manufacturing.

The students, mentored by Boeing employees, have learned that teams can outperform groups of individuals working in isolation. As Larissa Cannon of Brigham Young University put it, “To see something I worked on in [computer-aided design] become real and know that I had the freedom to design that and to work with others to do that, it was a very rewarding experience!”

For more information, visit the engineering programs at:

  • Brigham Young University

  • Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Purdue University

  • Tuskegee University

  • Clemson University

  • Washington State University

  • Washington State University North Puget Sound at Everett

  • Everett Community College

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