Polytechnic students place first, third at 2022 airport-related design challenge

Student teams from the School of Aviation and Transportation Technology at Purdue University’s Polytechnic Institute won first-place and third-place awards at the Transportation Research Board’s annual University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs.

For the 16th annual competition, the Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) invited teams of college students to find practical solutions for issues at airports. Team members contact airport operators and industry experts to obtain their advice and assess the practicality of the proposed design solutions.

First-Place Awards

Luigi Dy (left), accepts the first-place award for the Runway Safety Challenge area in the Airport Cooperative Research Program's University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs from Joe Winingar, acting director of safety, Air Traffic Organization, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) , at an award ceremony at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, DC.  (Photo courtesy of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium)

“Simple, Affordable, Flexible, and Expandable Runway Status Lights”
Challenge Category: Runway Safety / Runway Incursions / Runway Excursions Including Aprons, Ramps, and Taxiways
Faculty Advisor: John Mott

Luigi Raphael I. Dy, graduate research assistant, and McClane E. Rush (BS aviation management and aerospace financial analysis ’20, MS aviation and aerospace management ’22) won first place for their proposed SAFE-RWSL (Simple, Affordable, Flexible, and Expandable Runway Status Lights) system. Their design uses aircraft position information from Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) transmissions to wirelessly activate lights that indicate runway status to aircraft taking off and landing, and to aircraft, vehicles, and pedestrians using or crossing a runway. This system will supplement see-and-avoid and radio communications at non-towered airports and reduce the probability and corresponding risk of an aircraft collision from a runway incursion.

Mary Johnson (left) and Tai Wei Jiang (center) accept the first-place award for the Airport Management Planning Challenge area in the Airport Cooperative Research Program's University Design Challenge for Addressing Airport Needs from Trish Hiatt, deputy director of the FAA's Airport Safety and Standards Directorate at an award ceremony at the National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington, DC.  (Photo courtesy of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium)

The “Airport Unmanned Self-Driving Wheelchair”
Challenge Category: Airport Management and Planning
Faculty Advisor: Mary Johnson

Seongjun Ha graduate teaching assistant, Tai Wei Jiang and Gita Andhika Swastanto, graduate students in aviation and aerospace management, won first place for their Airport Unmanned Self-Driving Wheelchair (AUSW) design. Existing support facilities at airports for people with physical and psychological impairments are inefficient and inconvenient, the team said. The AUSW is designed to make airports more inclusive by alleviating major mobility and wayfinding issues. More broadly, the implementation of AUSW will improve airport safety, optimize airport operation costs, and maximize airport accessibility.

Third-Place Award

Flow Model of Proposed Design for Pavement Management Plan Decision Process (Figure 3 from the team's proposal)

“A Systematic Decision-Making Approach for Developing and Maintaining a Plan for Airport Pavement”
Challenge Category: Airport Operation and Maintenance
Faculty Advisor: Mary Johnson

Abigail Sheets, graduate teaching assistant, Junghye Lee (BS public health ’23), FNU Govind (graduate teaching assistant), and Edward Tirpack (assistant chief flight instructor and lecturer) won third place for their proposal for a simplified and systematic decision-making process to assist airport personnel with formulating and maintaining a design for pavement management, monitoring and maintenance. Airports face an overwhelming amount of regulations, standards, and recommended practices governing airport pavement management, monitoring, and maintenance, they said. Because airport pavement can vary in design and materials, individual airports require customized pavement management plans (PMP) — but many airports have yet to establish such plans do to high initial costs and time required. The team’s simplified PMP design includes four phases: airport pavement project definition, incorporation into airport project plan and budgeting, incorporation into airport maintenance plan, and then reevaluate and improve the plan. The process includes continuous evaluations via single and double feedback loops to increase the maintainability, sustainability and longevity of a PMP.

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