GAMA Aviation Design Challenge Stokes STEM Involvement


Registration is now open for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) 2023 Aviation Design Challenge. Deadline for registration is Dec. 17, 2022 (the 119th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first flight). Schools will receive complimentary “Fly to Learn” curricula, which comes with flight simulation software powered by X-Plane.

GAMA’s Aviation Design Challenge is limited to no more than 150 teams nationwide, with each high school able to support just one team. The curriculum is designed to run six weeks for a fully in-class experience, or as little as four weeks in an accelerated program involving after-school participation.

The goal is to stimulate interest among students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through an aviation-based curriculum. Participating teams of at least three students will apply what they learn to modify the design of an airplane. The competition culminates in a virtual “fly-off,” in which GAMA judges score the competing teams on aerodynamic and performance parameters based on a specific mission profile. The judges select the winning school based on that score “and other factors,” according to GAMA.

According to the GAMA release, “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.” A second-place prize is under consideration: a two-day STEM Lab Camp, hosted by Redbird Flight Simulations at the team’s high school.

Michael Capuana, director of 2018 Challenge winner Erie 1 BOCES Career & Technical Education, in Cheektowaga, New York, said, “Hands-on experience with industry offers a tremendous value to student learning. 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.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. A virtual “fly-off”?
    What’s the point? Souless sterile designs that have no smells, no noise, no flight.
    Reminds me of going to old aviation museums where “airplane” don’t even drip oil.
    Mightr as well drop aviation and go into computer simulation as a degree field.

  2. The best American schools are home,private and charter schools. Hopefully GAMA is including them? Why not have a second contest excluding computers, requiring participants to design, build and fly a free-flight aircraft as was common among the youth who later designed the aircraft of the 30s-80s. Classical design and construction methods are inexpensive and provide a strong foundation. Even large rubber-powered and U-control aircraft teach many important lessons. Ask Burt Rutan, who won numerous contests in U-control as a boy.