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Capstone Project

Capstone Airplane Design Project

The capstone airplane design courses constitute the final educational shaping experience that brings together elements of all that students learned during their undergraduate years. In these courses student learn how to design airplanes and how economics and societal needs combine with the fundamental aeronautical disciplines of aerodynamics, structures, propulsion and control to create integrated flying machines.
The courses lead students through all stages of the design process, from conceptual design paper studies, to experiments using models, and to construction, assembly and, finally, tests of complete final vehicles. Students create the organizational structure in which disciplinary groups interact and collaborate, and each student has to contribute to at least two of those disciplinary groups. Experimental work the students carry out includes wind tunnel tests, propulsion tests, structural tests, and systems tests.

Leading the airplane design program at the William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics are: Professor Eli Livne, Chester P. Nelson, a Boeing Technical Fellow and a UW Aeronautics & Astronautics Affiliate Associate Professor, with the support of Chuck Bower, District 11 VP, Academy of Model Aeronautics, Todd Leighton and Robert Dick, from AeroTec, and Dr. Marat Mor, an Affiliate Associate Professor.

For more information on the capstone airplane design program at the University of Washington, click here.

YouTube Videos of flights of University of Washington Capstone Design scaled vehicles:


Examples of UAVs designed, built, and tested by UW A&A students:

  • Electric hand-launched backpack UAVs for surveillance and communications.
  • A Kevlar high-maneuverability 12g pull-up/direct side force control box-wing UAV.
  • A series of modular dynamically-scaled SSBJs (supersonic business jets) UAVs for low-speed handling qualities research of supersonic configurations.
  • A strut-braced wing high aspect-ratio passenger aircraft configuration.
  • An unbraced high-aspect ratio transonic passenger jet configuration. Tailless supersonic configurations.

We thank the following local industries for their involvement and support:

We would also like to thank the U.S. Air Force for its support.