Competition finalists Team Multifun came up with the idea of plane wings that harvest energy.

Airbus 'Fly Your Ideas' student challenge now open

The fifth 'Fly Your Ideas' competition from Airbus is now accepting applications from around the world.

Every two years, the Airbus 'Fly Your Ideas' competition challenges students from around the world to to develop innovations for the aviation industry, in collaboration with the company, tackling real challenges and developing valuable skills for the students' future careers. 2016’s key challenges cover everything from business models and passenger experience through to design engineering and manufacturing, with entrants asked such questions as, 'How can big data improve flight operation efficiency?', 'How can AI support aircraft design and manufacturing?' and 'How can manufacturing be optimised to reduce waste and ensure sustainability?'.

New to the competition this year, entrants are being asked to submit solutions to genuine industry challenges that are either innovations for now or ideas for the future, with the hope of guaranteeing a cross section of proposals that are both applicable to problems today and also delivering 'blue-sky thinking' for tomorrow.

“Since Fly Your Ideas launched in 2008, more than 15,000 students have registered to participate, from over 600 universities in over 100 countries worldwide,” says Gregor Dirks, Corporate Innovator, Airbus. “It is now a well-established global student challenge and we make changes to every edition to reflect the fast-moving ecosystem of aviation and innovation. This year’s challenges were voted for by Airbus employees, so they offer ‘on the ground’, real-world industry challenges.”

Dirks also highlighted past entrants and what they have gone on to achieve.

“Previous participants and winners have gone on to all sorts of different careers in the aviation and aeronautics industry, ranging from commercial airline pilots to engineers and entrepreneurs", he said. "Many also continue their studies, often with renewed focus on the topic that they developed for the challenge.

“Fly Your Ideas 2015 winners, Team MultiFun, have continued to develop their idea for commercial application, building on their experience and the contacts they made during the competition. Their project combines energy harvesting and energy storage into weight neutral structural panels with the intent of gathering energy from structural deflections in flight.

“Team Stanford ADG were finalists in 2009 with their proposal on inverted V-formation flight, building on the model of migrating birds to reduce energy consumption. This led to a partnership and a collaborative research project into extended aircraft formations, which was recently completed.”

Fly Your Ideas is an opportunity for students worldwide to gain valuable employment skills, including teamwork, project management and presentation skills. Dirks notes that getting involved in the competition also means that teams get significant input from key Airbus employees.

“This unique senior-level access helps them to realise their projects,” Dirks says. “It’s a good way to build a network within the sector. Students have the opportunity to join online communities to exchange with experts, academics and students worldwide, mirroring the online digital environment of the education sector today. Of course there is also the top prize of €30,000 and the runners-up take home €15,000,” he adds.
To find out more about the competition, visit

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