In today's competitive global market, there is an ever-increasing demand for highly skilled engineers equipped to perform in teams dispersed over several time-zones by geography. Aerospace Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering (AerosPACE) is a senior design capstone program co-developed by academia and industry to help students develop the necessary skills to excel in the aerospace industry by challenging them to design, build, and fly an unique unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Students with little to no experience designing UAVs are put together in teams with their peers from geographically dispersed universities. This presents a significant challenge for the students in assimilating and applying aircraft design principles, using and interpreting output from analysis tools in multiple disciplines, and communicating their findings with their team members in an effective way. This thesis documents the development of a collaborative design tool for the generation and evaluation of small-scale electric-powered UAV concepts in AerosPACE. The integrated design and optimization software CCADE (Collaborative Conceptual Aircraft Design Environment) enables the immersion of team members from different universities in a software environment which shares design information and analysis results in a central database. Input files for use by open-source analysis tools are automatically generated, and output files read in and displayed in a user-friendly graphical interface. Analysis codes for initial sizing, geometry, airfoil selection, aerodynamics, propulsion, stability and control, and structures are included in the software. Optimization methods are proposed for implementation in future versions of CCADE to explore the breadth of the design space and help students understand the sensitivity of their design to certain key parameters. Testing of CCADE by students during the 2014-2015 AerosPACE course showed an increased volume of explored concepts and prompted questions from students to fill gaps in understanding of fundamental principles. Suggestions for increased student acceptance and use of the software are given. Through its unique architecture and application, CCADE aims to increase productivity and teamwork among AerosPACE participants by increasing the number of concepts which can be fully analyzed, enabling broader exploration of the feasible design space to produce unique and innovative aircraft configurations, and allowing teammates to share thoughts and learning via a shared design and analysis work-space.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





UAV, aircraft, conceptual, design, analysis, CAD, CAE, collaboration