UAS Challenge


Teams and judges give their views 

I have now been involved with the IMechE's UAS Challenge for over four years and been Chief Scrutineer for all four events. This has been both interesting and enjoyable, running a small team of dedicated and capable engineers, from a broad spectrum of the aviation world, civil and military. UAS Challenge takes a lot effort to pull together with the IMechE staff, but it is great to see the teamwork, application and technical understanding of the students in designing and building their air systems.

Their enthusiasm and commitment is infectious, as they endeavour to get the aircraft to fly effectively and it is very rewarding to see them complete the mission, having overcome a number of technical difficulties and practical operating issues. I think they all get a buzz out of completing the Challenge as part of their academic studies and learn a lot about regulation, project management, trials and evaluation and operational requirements on the way.

Rod Williams Principal Consultant, Frazer-Nash and Chief Scrutineer, UAS Challenge

“The IMechE UAS Challenge has consistently delivered a complex real world scenario in order to test and develop university students competing and provide unique recruitment opportunities for Industry. The competition continues to grow for the 2020 with the refinement of the aid mission, introduction of aircraft performance monitoring and increase to two flight lines.

The IMechE has focused in on STEM engagement for the last two years of the competition and continues to grow its STEM outreach on an international scale. The competitions presence and accessibility to all universities around the world, make it a pioneer of aerospace engineering, taking input from academia and industry to evolve as required to meet the needs of the future engineering sector. The preparations are well underway for 2020 and we look forward to the biggest turn out for the UAS Challenge yet.”

Alex Robbins UAS Challenge Steering Group Project Manager

The STEM Outreach Programme became an integral part of the competition. Seeing the enthusiasm with which the university teams interacted with the visiting students this year was fantastic. Having the students hear about engineering from people so passionate, and seeing from this event how Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths can be applied to help solve the worlds’ problems is an invaluable inspiration to encourage young people to follow a career in engineering.

Jon Tayler UAS Challenge Steering Group STEM Leader

The Welsh Government is pleased to be sponsoring the UAS Challenge. This is an exciting sector with a growing presence in an ever changing world and such high profile events are a fantastic opportunity to showcase the world class test and evaluation facilities we have here in Wales. Snowdonia Enterprise Zone’s Llanbedr site is a prime example of that, offering the perfect environment for the further development of unmanned systems and emerging technologies and I look forward to us welcoming University teams from across the world in June

Ken Skates Minister for Economy and Transport, Welsh Government

QinetiQ is very proud to sponsor this important event as it develops the business and technical skills in the participants that we would like to see in new entrants to our company. The airfield facilities we have provided for the competition with Snowdonia Aerospace Centre are purpose-built for this type of flying activity and we are keen to see as many people as possible benefit from its use.

Phil Briggs UAS Lead Engineer at sponsor QinetiQ

The enthusiasm, innovation, teamwork and focus on safe operation by all participants was truly outstanding.

John Whalley CEO, Aerospace Wales Forum

The opportunity to take part in product development from an initial concept right through to an operational prototype was very useful. This helped develop my understanding of the complex processes, evaluation and testing that has to take place in order to develop a prototype, which is something you usually don't see from start to finish.

James Lyall Loughborough UAS 2016 - winning team member

I was impressed by the dedication shown by the students - the work involved in doing this as a final year project is high, and even those who couldn’t get it to work on the day should be proud of themselves for what they did achieve and what they learnt.

Kerry Fletcher Project Manager, UAS Steering Group

It was a great opportunity for a real-life challenge, with design choices, risks and mission planning on display for this competitive event. I used the skills gained in this group project to design and build an industrial UAV for my MSc Individual Project.

University of Southampton team member

Great experience. Great learning. Great event!

Loughborough University team member

In scrutineering, we were able to inspect closely the platforms’ structural and systems integrity and assess the airworthiness of the aircraft as a whole. Across the board, the teams had grasped the technical attributes required and the implications air safety; the Challenge proved an invaluable means of converting theoretical designs into practical, safe and capable aircraft.

Rod Williams Chief Scrutineer, UAS Challenge

The Challenge was very holistic. There was something there for everyone. As a professor and academic, I learnt a lot and built many friends

Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering DHA Suffa University, Karachi, Pakistan

The UAS Challenge is one of the few initiatives where everyone wins. The students gain access to some of the industry’s leading thinkers and players who are judging, organising, and sponsoring the event; and the judges, organisers, and sponsors get first-sight of the new thinking that's emerging – and the next generation of innovators who are creating it.

Dr Donough Wilson UAS Challenge Judge, Innovation Lead, VIVID/futureVision, Coventry University TechnoCentre.

The specifications set for the aircraft, which created a genuine challenge with no easy answer. This helped me develop a sufficient understanding of multicopter aircraft to very soon set a new Guinness World Record for multicopter flight endurance.

University of the West of England team member

The UAS Challenge was an excellent opportunity to apply my degree to a real problem. I gained a great deal of technical knowledge and was the main topic of discussion during my job interviews. It was an invaluable opportunity to work on and manage a genuine engineering project for which I am grateful.

UAS Challenge 2018 participating team 

The Challenge encouraged team work and was tough enough to be intellectually stimulating with a large scope for analytical work, and achievable enough that the teams experienced the feeling of success when their work flew. Key learning points are that testing is essential, designs never work first time round, paperwork is vital for success and doing things the right way will take longer, but will save time later on.

UAS Challenge 2018 participating team 

Get in touch

Have a question? Would like to get involved?

Join the conversation

facebook_40_t Twitter Google Photos flickr instagram


Challenge Sponsors and Partners

Working in collaboration with