Institution news

IMechE launches 2019 Unmanned Air Systems Challenge

Press Office

Participants at UAS 2018
Participants at UAS 2018

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has launched the 2019 UAS Challenge, the fifth year of the competition which challenges student engineers to design, build and then fly their drones in a three-day “fly off” event at the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre.

The competition is for students from UK and international universities and has grown from 12 teams in 2015 to 25 teams and 300 participants in 2018.

For this year’s Challenge, participating teams are to assume that a natural disaster has occurred, with a large stretch of remote coastal area devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. The drones have to carry out a humanitarian mission to deliver aid to the affected area.

“The UAS Challenge continues to go from strength to strength. Not only does the Challenge provide a platform for the creativity and technical skill of engineering students, it reinforces how highly employers value participation in authentic project-based design solutions,” said Peter Finegold, Head of Education at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Jon du Bois, Senior Lecturer at University of Bath said

"The IMechE UAS Challenge has provided a great focal point for our teaching on autonomous systems and aircraft design. Being part of a multidisciplinary team is a valuable experience, and overall it has provided us with a fun, engaging way to inject deeper learning into our degrees."

The sponsors of the 2018 Challenge included QinetiQ, GKN Aerospace and Bombardier. Consultancy Frazer Nash was a partner of the competition.

The 2019 Challenge will include an expanded STEM programme which involves inviting local schoolchildren to attend the “fly-off”. We launched the STEM programme as part of this year’s Challenge and in recognition that this is the “Year of Engineering”. This summer, 60 school children aged 9-14 where invited to attend the event where they could see the drones, meet the student teams as well as take part in education activities.  

The UAS Challenge will take place at Snowdonia Aerospace Centre in Llanbedr, Wales from 16 June to 18 June 2019.

To find out more - to volunteer, sponsor or participate in the Challenge visit

Notes to Editors

  • Contact the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Press Office on 020 7973 1261 or email
  • The Institution of Mechanical Engineers was established in 1847 and has some of the world’s greatest engineers in its history books. It is one of the fastest growing professional engineering institutions. Headquartered in London, we have operations around the world and over 120,000 members in more than 140 countries working at the heart of the most important and dynamic industries such as the automotive, rail, aerospace, medical, power and construction industries.

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