As a senior design project and engineering club, DBF is meant to be a channel for students to apply analytical knowledge taught in class to real life applications. Fluid mechanics, structures of materials, programming, computer-aided design, and more are utilized in the design process of the plane. The project also provides the opportunity for students to learn information usually not taught inside the classroom. This includes extensive composite manufacturing, iterative design processes, airplane assembly, and documentation. Students are given more hands-on and practical experience, compared to the theoretical and conceptual focus of the engineering curriculum.
The AIAA DBF Competition is an annual international remote-control airplane contest with over 80 participants from all over the world. The contest rules are released in September and teams have until April to finalize the plane designs. The competition is divided into three flight missions and one ground mission, often requiring multiple types of payloads to be carried. The plane must be designed to complete these missions and must adhere to multiple other constraints and safety regulations. The written design report is also a major aspect of the competition. The 60 page design report documents the entire project, from design to manufacturing to testing.