MACH Student Team Places Top 10 in AIAA Competition

Congratulations to the team for placing 9th out of 107 total teams

The University of Michigan MACH student project team has placed in the top ten at the 28th-annual AIAA Design, Build, Fly (DBF) competition held on April 18-21 in Wichita, Kansas. Placing 9th among 107 competing teams worldwide, this year’s achievement marks MACH’s best-ever performance at the competition, as well as their second straight top ten finish. Notably, it also stands as the highest placement among any of the Big Ten teams that were in attendance. 

The MACH aircraft in flight

This year, the MACH team’s aircraft featured a 5-foot wingspan and an empty weight of 16 pounds. Additionally, the aircraft had the capability to take off in 10 feet while carrying an 8-pound payload and generating 34 pounds of thrust. The team reported, “After a rough start with a failed initial tech inspection, the team was able to rebound by going 3 for 3 on successful flight mission attempts, as well as a successful ground mission!” 

MACH is the University of Michigan’s AIAA Design-Build-Fly student project team focusing on designing, building and flying remote-controlled aircraft for AIAA’s annual competition. Each year, the team receives a new mission for competition and starts their design process entirely from scratch, enabling anyone on the team to go through a complete design cycle in a single year.

Members from the Big Ten schools who competed at the competition (from left to right: University of Maryland, University of Michigan, Purdue University, University of Illinois and Penn State University.)

In August, 2023, this year’s competition parameters were released with a mission to build an aircraft able to simulate an emergency medical transport and urban taxi flight, with the goals of carrying the most medical supply cabinet weight and most passengers while maximizing speed and efficiency. The team spent the 2023-2024 academic year deep in detailed design phases and working on prototypes and tests to validate their design. 

“This year was full of delays and setbacks, but the team was able to come together despite everything and build an incredible aircraft and surpass everyone’s expectations at competition,” commented Owen Smolek, Team Captain of MACH. There is no doubt they are eager to celebrate this year’s outstanding placing and start preparing for next year’s competition.