Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2023.


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Mohammad Ayoubi


For their Santa Clara University Senior Design Project, this team chose to create an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with the intent of participating in the AIAA Design, Build, Fly competition. Divided into two subteams, Aerodynamics and Structures & Controls, the teams worked together to model and construct a working prototype aircraft. The Aerodynamics team focused on selecting adequate airfoil and wing dimensions for the main wing and tail through the use of aircraft design software and CFD simulations. Aiming at a cruise speed of approximately 25 m/s, the team decided that the NACA 4416 airfoil would be the most suitable, with a chord length of 0.3 m and a wingspan of 1.5 m. The Structures & Controls team focused on the integration of the chosen airfoil into a full aircraft assembly, in addition to selection of sub-components for control and propulsion. After considering a balsa wood, carbon sheet, or foam construction, a balsa wood buildup was selected as the ideal manufacturing method to meet the system requirements. Finite element models (FEM) and simulations were preformed to design and analyze the integrity and strength of such a structure under various load cases. For sub-systems a fixed tricycle landing gear set-up was selected to minimize system weight and complexity. For an expected 3.175 kg gross weight with payload, propulsion components were selected based on power requirements established by the Aerodynamics team, consisting of a 2000W 520 Kv brushless DC motor, 22.2 Volt 4,500 mAh LiPo battery, and 15x6E propeller. The control surface actuators chosen were servo motors sized by aerodynamic analysis of the control surfaces. Finally control and transmission components were taken from current inventory including: 2.4 GHz Spektrum DX8 controller and 2.4 GHz X8R receiver. The culmination of this design project resulted in a successful test flight containing a 1 kg payload.