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Aeronautics Innovation Challenges

NASA’s nationwide team of aeronautical innovators are committed to giving students of all ages opportunities to solve some of the biggest technical challenges facing the aviation community today. Through NASA-sponsored challenges and competitions, students representing multiple disciplines will put their skills to work by designing and building solutions to real-world problems.

NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center?s F/A-18 research aircraft

NASA’s Aeronautics Innovation Challenges are your entry points to the exciting, fast-moving aviation world of today. And they’re valuable ways for us to get inputs and ideas that may never have occurred to us. Thank you for joining our journey!

Open Challenges

NASA's Gateways to Blue Skies (2024)

Advancing Aviation for Natural Disasters

As climate change increasingly influences the frequency and severity of natural disasters on a global scale, opportunities to contribute at the intersection of technological advancement, aviation, and natural disasters grow in both number and importance. The 2024 Gateways to Blue Skies Competition is asking teams to conceptualize, in terms of feasibility and viability, aviation-related system(s) that can be applied by 2035 to one phase of management of a chosen type of natural disaster. Notice of Intent Submission Deadline: October 16, 2023.

Learn More about NASA's Gateways to Blue Skies (2024)
Graphic showing an artist illustration of a partial globe (earth) with various airplanes in flight all around. Outside the globe is the Gateway to Blueskies logo.

Open Challenge Tournament Lab presents Brilliant Minds for Pure Blue Skies

Aviation is making strides to be for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 with Sustainable Aviation Fuels. In this challenge, NASA wants you to go a step further and think of a novel idea to eliminate or mitigate all harmful emissions from air travel with more eco-friendly, sustainable solutions. Help NASA protect the skies with a NEW innovative idea to eliminating harmful emissions. Are you up for the challenge? Submit individually or as a team with your breakthrough, out-of-the-box, impossible made possible idea by December 14, 2023.

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Closed Challenges

Dream with Us graphic, showing a female African American dreaming up aeronautics ideas.

NASA Aeronautics Dream With Us Design Challenge

Students ages 13-18, come dream with NASA Aeronautics and help us envision and market a more sustainable commercial aircraft. Put together your dream team of 2-4 participants and build a marketing plan to help convince a team of NASA experts that your design for a commercial aircraft should be chosen as the best sustainable design.

Airplane being pushed back from the gate at an airport.

ATM-X Digital Information Platform University Challenge: Pushback to the Future

The Digital Information Platform (DIP) subproject has launched its second University Challenge in collaboration with the NASA Tournament Lab and partnering with DrivenData. The DIP University Challenge invites university students and faculty to consider how better to predict pushback times at U.S. airports.

Number One Medal graphic.

NASA Langley: NASA Aeronautics Design Challenge

The 2021-2022 challenge topic aimed to help the United States Fire Service (USFS) with the problem of wildfires wherever they occur. College students in senior level engineering courses or those in graduate school proposed a technically feasible design for autonomous or piloted very short vertical takeoff and landing (VSTOL) water tanker with specific firefighting capabilities.

Historical marker in front of building.

NASA Glenn: University Design Challenge

In its seventh year of implementation, NASA Glenn cordially invites teams of undergraduate students to engage with its scientists and engineers in the 2022-2023 offering of University Students Design Challenge, USDC–7. The challenge features two space-themed projects both of which encourage teams of participating students to creatively and innovatively solve specific problems to benefit NASA mission needs.