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2018 Undergraduate Team Space Transportation Design Competition

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Design Competition Rules


General Rules

·       All AIAA Student members are eligible and encouraged to participate. Membership with AIAA must be current to submit a report and to receive any prizes.

·       Students must submit their letter of intent and final report via the online submission system before on the posted deadlines to be eligible to participate. No extensions will be granted.

·       More than one design may be submitted from students at any one school.

·       If a design group withdraws their final report from the competition, the team leader must notify AIAA Headquarters immediately.

·       Design projects that are used as part of an organized classroom requirement are eligible and encouraged for competition.


·       Team Submissions

o   Team competitions will be groups of not more than ten AIAA Student Members per entry.

·       Individual Submissions

o   Individual competitions will consist of only one AIAA Student member per entry.

·       Graduate

o   Graduate students may participate in the graduate categories only.

·       Undergraduate

o   Undergraduate students may participate in the undergraduate categories only.

·       Letter of Intent (LOI)

o   A Letter of Intent indicating interest in participating in the design competitions is required before submitting a final report.

o   All Letters of Intent must be submitted through the online submission system.

o   Letter of Intent must include student’s names, emails, AIAA membership numbers, faculty advisor(s) names, emails, and project advisor(s) names and emails. Any LOI that is not completed will be ineligible to submit a final report.

·       Final Report

o   An electronic copy of the report in Adobe PDF format must be submitted to AIAA using the online submission site. Total size of the file cannot exceed 20 MB.

o   A “Signature” page must be included in the report and indicate all participants, including faculty and project advisors, along with students’ AIAA member numbers and signatures.

o   Each report should be no more than 100 pages, double-spaced (including graphs, drawings, photographs, and appendices) if it were to be printed o 8.5”x11.0” paper, and the font should be no smaller than 10 pt. Times New Roman.


All submissions to the competition shall be the original work of the team members. 

Any submission that does not contain a copyright notice shall become the property of AIAA.  A team desiring to maintain copyright ownership may so indicate on the signature page but nevertheless, by submitting a proposal, grants an irrevocable license to AIAA to copy, display, publish, and distribute the work and to use it for all of AIAA’s current and future print and electronic uses (e.g. “Copyright © 20__ by _____. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., with permission.).

Any submission purporting to limit or deny AIAA licensure (or copyright) will not be eligible for prizes.


Conflict of Interest

It should be noted that it shall be considered a conflict of interest for a design professor to write or assist in writing RFPs and/or judging proposals submitted if (s)he will have students participating in, or that can be expected to participate in those competitions.  A design professor with such a conflict must refrain from participating in the development of such competition RFPs and/or judging any proposals submitted in such competitions.


·       Letter of Intent — 10 February 2018 (11:59 pm Eastern Time)

·       Proposal delivered to AIAA Headquarters — 10 May 2018 (11:59 pm Eastern Time)

·       Announcement of Winners — 31 August 2018 (11:59 pm Eastern Time)


The prize money provided for the competitions is funded through the AIAA Foundation. The monetary awards may differ for each competition, with a maximum award of $500. The award amounts are listed below.

The top three design teams will be awarded certificates. One representative from the first place team may be invited by the Technical Committee responsible for the RFP to make a presentation of their design at an AIAA forum. A travel stipend may be available for some competitions, with a maximum travel stipend of $750 which may be used to help with costs for flight, hotel, or conference registration to attend an AIAA forum.


Space Transportation Competition

·       Undergraduate Team Space Transportation – Pluto Orbiter

              1st Place: $500; 2nd Place: $250; 3rd Place $125


Proposal Requirements

The technical proposal is the most important factor in the award of a contract. It should be specific and complete. While it is realized that all of the technical factors cannot be included in advance, the following should be included and keyed accordingly:

·       Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements.

·       Describe the proposed technical approaches to comply with each of the requirements specified in the RFP, including phasing of tasks. Legibility, clarity, and completeness of the technical approach are primary factors in evaluation of the proposals.

·       Particular emphasis should be directed at identification of critical, technical problem areas. Descriptions, sketches, drawings, systems analysis, method of attack, and discussions of new techniques should be presented in sufficient detail to permit engineering evaluation of the proposal. Exceptions to proposed technical requirements should be identified and explained.

·       Include tradeoff studies performed to arrive at the final design.

·       Provide a description of automated design tools used to develop the design.


Basis for Judging

1. Technical Content (35 points)

This concerns the correctness of theory, validity of reasoning used, apparent understanding and grasp of the subject, etc. Are all major factors considered and a reasonably accurate evaluation of these factors presented?

2. Organization and Presentation (20 points)

The description of the design as an instrument of communication is a strong factor on judging. Organization of written design, clarity, and inclusion of pertinent information are major factors.

3. Originality (20 points)

The design proposal should avoid standard textbook information, and should show the independence of thinking or a fresh approach to the project. Does the method and treatment of the problem show imagination? Does the method show an adaptation or creation of automated design tools?

4. Practical Application and Feasibility (25 points)

The proposal should present conclusions or recommendations that are feasible and practical, and not merely lead the evaluators into further difficult or insolvable problems.