GAMA Opens Annual Design Challenge

 - September 2, 2020, 3:15 PM

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association opened its registration for the 2021 Aviation Design Challenge for high school students. Open to the first 150 schools that register, the competition is designed to promote aviation jobs and STEM education through an aviation-focused curriculum and virtual fly-off.

Registered schools receive a free “Fly to Learn” curriculum that is aligned with national STEM standards and provides basics of flight and airplane design principles. The curriculum can be taught in-person or through virtual settings and spans about four to six weeks. Participants are then tasked with modifying an airplane design and compete in a virtual fly-off using X-Plane software.

GAMA judges score the challenge submissions based on the fly-off and performance parameters. The winning team receives an all-expenses-paid general aviation experience and the runner up receives a STEM Lab Camp furnished by Redbird Flight Simulations.

Since launched in 2013, more than 3,500 students from more than 400 high schools have participated, with past winners going on to pursue aviation careers. Registration closes on December 17.

“This valuable program provides students with the opportunity to learn about the science of flight, the mechanics of creating aircraft, and the career opportunities available in the general aviation industry,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce.

More than 80 high schools in 35 states participated in the 2020 competition, which was completed despite the complexities involved with the Covid-19 pandemic. “The Covid-19 pandemic created unforeseen and difficult challenges for the students and teachers, and we were impressed with innovative approach teams took to collaborate virtually and finish the competition,” Bunce said.

The 2020 winners involved a team from Riverwood International Charter School in Sandy Springs, Georgia, with Harkness Career and Technical Center in Cheektowaga, New York, the second-place winner. The winning team, which was a first-time participant, offered a design that had substantially increased wingspan, winglets, retractable gear, and two additional propeller blades, GAMA said.

The winning package included a tour of Gulfstream Aerospace; demonstration flights by Cirrus Aircraft; a tour of a Signature Flight Support FBO; and virtual experiences, including live demonstrations and career panel discussions with Dassault Falcon, ForeFlight, and Garmin.