Registration for the 2024 Aviation Design Challenge is now open – CLICK HERE to register.
For 2024, we will be upgrading software to X-Plane 12, a demo to test compatibility can be downloaded at x-plane.com/desktop/try-it/. There are options to adjust the software help with compatibility. For more information please email STEMcompetition@gama.aero.
What is the GAMA Aviation Design Challenge?
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) is sponsoring the Aviation Design Challenge to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education through aviation curriculum and a virtual fly-off in high schools across the United States.
If you’re interested in receiving information about the Aviation Design Challenge, including registration dates for future competitions, please subscribe to the Aviation Design Challenge mailing list.
How do I register?
Registration is limited to the first 150 U.S. high schools (all types). Teams, which can be either high school classes or after-school programs, must include at least, but not limited to, three students, including at least two students of different genders, with the exception of single-sex schools. Only one team per school may enter.
CLICK HERE to register
How does the competition work?
Schools registered for the competition will receive complimentary “Fly to Learn” curricula, which comes with flight simulation software powered by X-Plane. Teachers will guide students through the science of flight and airplane design, completing the curricula in approximately six weeks in the classroom or in four weeks through an accelerated program. Each high school will apply what they have learned by modifying the design of an airplane. The schools will then compete in a virtual fly-off, which will be scored on aerodynamic and performance parameters while flying a specific mission profile. Judges from GAMA will select the winning school based on that score and other factors.
What is the prize?
The first place prize will include an all-expenses-paid trip for up to four high school students, one teacher and one chaperone from the winning team to experience general aviation manufacturing firsthand. There may also be a second place prize, a two-day STEM Lab Camp, hosted by Redbird Flight Simulations at the team’s high school.
What is the timeline for the contest?
Mid-January: Registered teachers receive Fly to Learn curricula and software powered by X-Plane from GAMA.
March: Teachers receive competition instructions from GAMA.
April: All competition entries must be received by GAMA.
May: Winning high school announced; all other high schools notified by GAMA.
Summer: The winning high school experiences general aviation manufacturing firsthand as its prize.
What do past winners say about the competition?
“Hands-on experience with industry offers a tremendous value to student learning,” said Michael Capuana, Director of Erie 1 BOCES Career & Technical Education, the 2018 winning high school located in Cheektowaga, New York. “As we need more young people to enter STEM careers, all efforts to increase student engagement are embraced. Thank you to GAMA and its partners for their efforts; this opportunity is truly one of a kind.”
“The chance for our students to compete in the Aviation Design Challenge broadened horizons in ways that we would not have been able to do without GAMA,” said Matt Caffey, Principal of Olney High School, the 2017 winning school based in Olney, Texas. “Our students winning is one of the most exciting things to happen at Olney High School this year. The best part is that their learning will continue through the enriching experience they will have at Glasair this summer.”
Jeremy Schroeder, Principal of Weyauwega-Fremont High School, the winning high school in 2016: “We are very honored, thankful, and extremely appreciative that our students and staff are being recognized for their diligent, hard work in and out of the classroom. This opportunity and recognition will allow further real-world educational experiences for these students to apply what was learned within the classroom. Thank you again to GAMA for the selection, recognition, and opportunities to come for our students and staff.”
“I can’t thank you enough … for the positive impact you are making in the life of a kid,” said the CHEF Homeschoolers from Cuba City, Wisconsin, who won in 2015. “The GAMA competition has taught us the importance of teamwork, creativity, and critical thinking.”
“This competition, and ultimate victory, will be life-changing for my kids,” says Grant Hanevold, Principal of Sunrise Mountain High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, which won in 2014.
Learn more about our competition: