College of Engineering

Khalifa University Places 9th in 2020 Design, Build, Fly Competition

June 7, 2020

A team of 20 Aerospace and Mechanical engineering undergraduate students from Khalifa University took 9th place in this year’s DBF Competition after successfully designing, fabricating, and demonstrating the flight capabilities of an unmanned, electric powered, radio controlled aircraft.


“We believe that our students have achieved a great feat by securing 9th place out of 101 participating teams worldwide. This was an extremely tough competition where top ranked schools in the world were participating. We are very thrilled and proud of the achievement made by our students and hope we will continue to improve our ranking in coming competitions,” shared Dr. Rehan Umer, Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering. Dr. Umer and Dr. Rafic Ajaj, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering, supervised the team of 20 students.


The Design/Build/Fly (DBF) competition is a partnership between the AIAA Foundation, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Raytheon Missile Systems. This competition provides students an opportunity to design and build a radio controlled aircraft to perform specific missions. 


Khalifa University has been participating in the DBF Competition since 2012. KU faculty encourage senior students to participate each year, as it gives the engineering students a real-world aircraft design experience and an opportunity to validate the analytic skills they develop in the classroom.


Traditionally, participants who complete an entry form and submit a report on time are invited to bring their plane to a central location for a flyoff, with winners determined by a combination of their report score and their flight score. This year, however, the fly-off was cancelled to safeguard the health of the national and international teams due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thus, the winners were selected based on the formal submitted report alone.


The KU team built a total of three planes. The first plane was built to test their design to ensure the plane could fly properly. Using the lessons learned from this plane, they then built two more planes which address some of the issues they found in the first plane.
Their report detailing the steps they went through to design and test the aircraft landed them in 9th place. 


“All the planes we built were part of a process of refinement to optimize the design, and if the competition were to continue as normal, we would have built a final plane that would have been optimized for the fly-off,” explained BSc in Aerospace Engineering student and team member Omar Alhashmi.


“This has been a wonderful experience where we got to design and build an aircraft using the knowledge we have been acquiring. This journey will surly help shape us into the engineers we will be in the future, and we are glad to see students receiving support for such projects. I encourage all students to get involved in such activities as the knowledge and experience they reward are invaluable,” Alhashmi shared.


Congratulations to the team!


The 2020 KU DBF team members include:

  • Mohamed Alhosani
  • Hayat F. Ali
  • Salem Alzaabi
  • Omar Alhashmi
  • Noora Alzaabi
  • Hassan Elsheikh
  • Ahmed Alhantoobi
  • Reem Almheiri
  • Khaled Alhammadi
  • Maha Almarzooqi
  • Mohamed Alblooshi
  • Alhanouf Eshtairy
  • Mohamed Almazrouei
  • Hussein Ali
  • Sultan Al Hassanieh
  • Maryam A. Naqi
  • Abdulqader Aljaberi
  • Sara N. Alsabeeha
  • Filmon Tsegay
  • Suhail Alfalasi