Introducing the SAE AeroConnect Challenge™

Through the SAE AeroConnect Challenge™ universities will think critically about emerging technology issues relevant to the connected aircraft industry. Teams of university students will design and develop, conceptually, an Urban Air Mobility System in response to a Florida based theme park request for proposal for upgrade to current mobility. Immersed in the SAE International’s AeroTech conference, universities will present their solution in various ways including a technical design presentation and a showcase opportunity on SAE International’s AeroTech show floor.

The SAE AeroConnect Challenge™ is a student engineering design competition in the SAE Emerging Technology Series, which provides an opportunity for students to think critically about current and future emerging technologies in the mobility engineering industry. Each program within the SAE Emerging Technology Series challenges universities to create a team of multi-disciplinary engineers to collaborate, design, present, and defend conceptual designs to industry professionals.

The formal education objectives of SAE AeroConnect Challenge™ include that participants will demonstrate the ability to:

  • think critically about current and future emerging technology issues relevant to Urban Air Mobility.
  • research and define based on a proposal for a new theme park experience.
  • design a technically capable and affordable Urban Air Mobility System to meet the needs of the theme park and their mass populations.
  • communicate technical information using the SAE International Technical Paper format.
  • create a Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA).
  • use a Preliminary Design Review Presentation to present and defend in-depth conceptual designs.
  • communicate their solution to industry professionals at their own SAE AeroTech Floor Showcase Booth.
  • ability to work on a multi-disciplinary team to solve a real-world industry problem outside of the classroom.

SAE AeroConnect Challenge 2021 Mission

A Florida Theme Park is requesting proposals for a new people mover system for installation at their resort in Orlando, FL. The new guest transportation system is intended to serve as a technological refresh to existing mass transit systems (e.g., ferries, monorail and transit buses) in the resort and should make use of developments in Urban Air Mobility technologies, while still providing an entertaining, themed attraction for guests. The following are the primary objectives of the new transportation system:

  • Safety: Guest safety is paramount. The transit system must provide enough redundancy such that the guests feel safe and protected.
  • Reliability: The transit system must be able to support continuous operation from park open to close, 8:00 AM to Midnight, (with 1 hour of additional use for arrivals and departures to the resort complex). Downtime for maintenance leads to frustrated guests.
  • Comfort: The interior should be climate controlled, ventilated in accordance with mass transit standards (TBR) and ample seating should be available to support throughput.
  • Throughput: The theme park estimates upwards of 30,000 – 50,000 guests each per day. Everyone who visits the park uses some form of Mass Transit - the system must be able to support at least 10% of that daily population moving between a specified park to park option or a park to resort option.
  • Entertainment: An on-board park information & entertainment system should be available providing key updates about the park. On-board wireless internet should also be supported. In traditional fashion, each of the transit vehicles should be fashioned to represent park themes - e.g., a futuristic / retro-futuristic motif, a fairy tale motif, etc.
  • Technology: The experience must demonstrate the latest in autonomous transport technologies including waypoint navigation (travel to predetermined air transit stations throughout the resort), traffic / collision avoidance and on-board Wi-Fi to support guests’ use of the park app.

To read the full rules, please visit