INNOVATIVE LIGHTWEIGHT AIRCRAFT DESIGN – A STUDENT COMPETITION
University education often focuses on a sound theoretical education at the expense of practical experience due to time limitations. Nevertheless it is important to train essential technical problem solving skills in practice too. This paper describes the experiences of the authors with a student competition between four German universities called “Stahl fliegt” (Steal can fly), which provides a practical team-work project for engineering (design) students that nearly spans the whole life-cycle from brainstorming for product ideas to manufacturing and usage of the product. The development task is an aircraft or flight device totally made of steel which satisfies several lightweight restrictions.