Rules and laws

Your participation in the Aerospace Jam 2021-22 Competition will be governed by federal and state laws, school district policies, and competition rules. Please read these laws and rules carefully before starting work on your drone platform and before any testing or flights. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions about applicable laws or competition rules at any point during the competition year.

Federal, state, and local drone/UAS laws

All teams are required to comply with all federal, state, and local laws regarding the flight and operation of drones/unmanned aerial systems. Note that all FAA rules and Wisconsin laws for drones are only applicable for operating outside of a building. If you only fly your drone indoors (as we recommend), these rules and laws do not apply. If you want to fly your drone outside, you’ll need to both register your drone and complete the requirements for a recreational drone pilot (including required safety test). Note that some local laws may place additional restrictions on outdoor flights.

We recommend that all teams restrict their flights to indoor spaces to avoid the relatively complex rules governing outdoor flight.

District/school policies

All teams are required to comply with school district rules and policies regarding flight and operation of drones/unmanned aerial systems on school property and within school buildings. Please review drone policies before finalizing your commitment to the competition.


The drone you will be provided, while relatively safe, is still capable of causing injury. We will be modifying the drone to carry a payload which may cause it to fly irradicably and potentially out of control. During the competition, we will require the use of protected eyewear for teams currently competing, and we strongly encourage the use of eye protection for all participants during the testing of any indoor or outdoor flights.

We will be providing additional recommendations for the safe testing and operation of your drone in initial fall meetings.

Competition rules

These are the draft rules and are subject to change including up to the day of the competition.

  1. Teams are comprised of 4-8 students and a faculty leader. Student members can be added or changed at the faculty leader’s discretion. Changing of the faculty leader requires notification of competition organizers.
  2. Teams may seek and use outside help in the construction and coding of their drone platform from any source. However, all coding specific for the competition must be done by student team members. Publicly available Arduino libraries, code examples, and generic code available on public forums is allowed. In other words, all coding that is written specifically for the tasks within this competition must be done by student members.
  3. Code must be made available for inspection to competition judges (if requested).
  4. All assembly of the drone platform must be done by student team members.
  5. Teams may use 3D printers or 3D printing services, e.g. Shapeways, to make components for their drone platforms except for components that are integral to flying the drone, e.g. propellers. Only stock parts may be used for drone control and flying components. This exception excludes the “legs” of the drone. They may be removed, modified, or replaced as long as the ability of the drone to safely land is not compromised.
  6. Teams may not modify the drone flight controller and/or radio in any way.
  7. Teams may only use the drone, Arduino, and sensor kit provided by the competition. They cannot use alternative drones or alternative sensors (e.g. higher accuracy). Replacement sensors can be purchased but no more than the number provided in the original kit can be used on the drone during the competition.
  8. Teams will be allowed into the competition area prior to the competition only during the allotted practice time. 
  9. Teams will not be able to observe other teams competing in the arena until their competition form is complete and turned in. Parents and other team spectators are expected to not share any information about the competition arena with their teams before competing.
  10. Team members may not enter the arena competition space. Judges will retrieve non-functioning drones and return them to the arena base.
  11. Penalties will be assessed for a drone crash, touching the arena net enclosure (resulting in a crash or not), or for having a judge return a non-functioning unit (regardless of the cause).
  12. Propeller guards are not required during the competition.
  13. Any team suspected of cheating, e.g. unallowed drone modification, receiving competition arena information early, may be subject to point penalties and/or complete disqualification from the competition.
  14. A three-judge panel will assess any penalties.