CSU 3D-Printed Fixed-Wing Aircraft Competition

California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) will host the 2nd Annual CSU 3D-Printed Fixed-Wing Aircraft Competition (C-3DPAC) on May 18, 2024, at its Jesse Owens Track and Field Complex on campus.

Rules & Requirements

The competition steering committee (composed of faculty from Cal State LA, San Diego State, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and CETYS – Tijuana) works together to establish the rules and logistics for the competition.   Please contact the organizer, Mike Thorburn, if you have questions at [email protected].


October 1, 2023 Registration Opens
For information or to be placed on a mailing list, email [email protected]
March 30, 2024 Registration Deadline
April 30, 2024 Design Competition Submission Deadline
May 18, 2024 Flight Competition @ Jesse Owens Stadium and Jesse Owens Track and Field, Cal State LA. 


3D_airplane_competition_student hold plane


In this competition, students design and fabricate airplanes using 3D printing technology. The planes need to be lightweight, and the designs need to maximize performance given manufacturing and material constraints- a great opportunity to leverage modern digital manufacturing technologies.



The airplanes can be any size but will need to satisfy strict manufacturing conditions with all airframe components, including all aerodynamic surfaces and control surfaces, printed using a purely (not hybrid) 3D printing technology. (Propellers are to be commercial off-the-shelf technology.)

aircraft hand illustration with 3d printer

Student Challenge

  • Develop a lightweight, 3D printable airframe
  • Integrate design and manufacturing to maximize performance
  • Design within the 3D printing process and material constraints
  • Leverage direct digital manufacturing technologies 


This competition comprises three parts: a flight competition, a design competition, and a design simulation. Each is judged and awarded independently a first and second prize. A Grand Prize will also be awarded to the team with the highest composite score.


Every institution participating must fill out an entry form. One entry form may include multiple teams from the same institution. If an additional team needs to register, the institution may fill out a second entry form but must include all the attachments. Each entry must include the following information. NOTE: CSU campuses do not need to submit general liability and drone insurance certificates, but they are required to complete the remainder of the competition application.

  • Insurance Compliance
  • TEAMS: Student info
  • TEAMS: Advisor info
  • TEAMS: Student pilot info
  • Aircraft Description


Does the vehicle's overall design need to be an original design, or can an existing concept be used?

  • An existing concept design may be used, but the detailed design should be your own

Can teams shave off or manipulate the 3D-printed part?

  • 3D printed parts may be post-processed with finishing operations such as filing or sanding, but no non-3D printed materials may be added to the airframe during post-processing

In consideration of receiving permission to operate a small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) in the airspace of California State University, Los Angeles, I hereby, knowingly and voluntarily, for myself, my heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns, agree to indemnify, release, and hold harmless Cal State L.A. University Auxiliary Services, Inc. and California State University, Los Angeles, as well as their administrators, instructors, volunteers, agents, officers, successors and trustees and assigns, from any and all liability associated with the operation of this UAS, and the collection or use of images, video or audio obtained by the UAS during its flight, including but not limited to liability for claims, causes of action, or lawsuits, for bodily injury, personal or advertising injury, wrongful act, property damage, breach of contract, or consequential loss resulting in damages, judgments, settlements, or any monetary loss, including attorney’s fees.

Contact Nidavone Niravanh, Executive Director, Risk Management and Environmental, Health and Safety Office, via email at [email protected] with insurance or indemnification questions. Please click on the Cal State LA UAS application form link below. Complete all sections, then upload the document during registration.

Download Indemnification Form

Our Sponsor

We are grateful to our generous sponsor, Onshape, for making this event possible.

onshape logo




We would like to acknowledge the support of our partners,
San Diego State University, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona,
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CETYS Universidad- Campus Tijuana, California State University, Los Angeles, College of ECST,
Emilio Flores-Photos, and Natalie Leonnig Photos

The C-3DPAC competition was originally modeled after the successful 3DPAC competition held at the University of Texas.

Contact Mike Thorburn, ECST Capstone Director, at [email protected] for sponsorship opportunities.


When you attend a California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) event, you enter an area where photography, audio recording, and video recording may occur. By entering the event premises, you consent to such media recording and its release, publication, exhibition, or reproduction to be used for news, webcasts, promotional purposes, telecasts, advertising, and inclusion on websites. You further waive all rights you may have to any claims in connection with any exhibition, streaming, webcasting, televising, or other publication of these materials, regardless of the purpose or sponsoring of such exhibiting, broadcasting, webcasting, or other publication.

Design and Innovation Competition San Diego State, Hot-End Aeronautics Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, SLO Flyers
Flight Competition San Diego State, Hot-End Aeronautics Cal State LA, Aero Eagles United


California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) hosted the 1st CSU 3D-Printed Fixed-Wing Aircraft Competition on May 20, 2023, at its Jesse Owens Track and Field Complex on campus. This event is modeled after the successful event hosted by the University of Texas at Arlington. In 2024, there will be an additional competition for Best Simulation and a prize for best overall entry.

2023 Competition

CSU 3D-Printed Fixed-Wing Aircraft Competition


For questions or sponsorship inquiries, please contact
Mike Thorburn, Cal State LA, at  [email protected]