The aerial vehicle's structural and mechanical subsystems


The airframe team on UAS@UCLA is in charge of designing, fabricating, and testing the physical structure that will hold the onboard electronics and other secondary subsystems. The team first iteratively designs the system using computer-aided design (CAD) and simulates the models with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for aerodynamic properties and finite element analysis (FEA) for structural integrity. Once a design is completed, the team works to develop a bill of material (BOM) for each subsystem to purchase materials that will be used during fabrication. Once completed, the structure and mechanical subsystems undergo rigorous testing to ensure quality and mission success.

How do I get involved with airframe design?

The airframe team is mainly composed of aerospace and mechanical engineers, but any academic background is welcome to join! If you are interested in getting involved with airframe design reach out anyone on leadership and read the following sections for more information on software setup and basic theory behind CFD and FEA. Also be sure to check out our workshop notes.

What is the design and development process?

  • First off, you must have some background knowledge on what you want to make
    • The Theory section will give you that.
  • Next, a visualization of the part needs to be created. This is where a CAD model is created.
    • See Solidworks setup and tutorials.
  • After a model gets created, it gets revised. Sometimes revisions occur digitally before a physical product exists after analysis, but other times it will take physical testing or trial and error to prompt design changes.
    • This will be a good time to use skills that can be learned from the ANSYS and Matlab-Simulink tutorials.
  • After a model is created, it has to be fabricated. This means that the CAD design will be 3D printed or hand manufactured using various lab equiptment; after something is manufactured, it can still go back to the drawing board to get changed.
    • Go through the fabrication tutorials to learn more about how to 3D print or how to use the tools available at the lab.


Software Setup

SOLIDWORKS Setup - CAD design
ANSYS Setup - Simulations
Matlab-Simulink - Simulations (In progress!)
Subversion Setup - File Versioning



General Lab Safety and Policies - How to keep the AIAA Lab Safe and Clean
Wood Fabrication Techniques - Tips and safety for working with wood
Metal Fabrication Techniques - Tips and safety for working with metal
Carbon Fiber Fabrication Techniques - Tips and safety for woking with carbon fiber
3D Printing - How to create and print a 3D part
Soldering- Coming Soon!

Projects and Assignments

Introduction to SOLIDWORKS - How to navigate and make your first part in SOLIDWORKS
Spinny Design Integration- Advanced assignment that allows you to practice SOLIDWORKS and designing skills
Introduction to ANSYS - Find out how to use ANSYS and perform a simple simulation
Introduction to ANSYS CFD- Using ANSYS to calculate aerodynamic properties of NACA wings
Introduction to ANSYS FEA - Using ANSYS to perform stress and deformation analysis (In Progress)
Your First 3D Printed Part! - Practice the process of submitting an STL file for printing!
Modelling a Foam Plane- How to use SOLIDWORKS to make a foam plane

Platforms and Software Used

SOLIDWORKS Powerful CAD Software
ANSYS CFD and FEA Simulation Software

Last Edit: 10/15/2018 by T. Kantner