Five engineering student teams honored in national airport design competition

August 11, 2023

By Tessa M. Pick 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Five student teams from Penn State’s Engineering Leadership Development program in the School of Engineering Design and Innovation earned recognition in the 17th annual University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs, sponsored by the Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP).

The national competition challenged students to design solutions in four airport-related subject areas: airport operation and maintenance; runway safety, incursions and excursions; airport environmental interactions; and airport management and planning. One of the Penn State teams placed first in the airport operations and maintenance category, awarding them $3,000 and an invitation to attend the competition’s award ceremony in Washington, D.C. in August. Another placed third in airport environmental interactions and received $1,000, and three others earned honorable mention, with each team receiving $500. 

“The ACRP competition provides students with the opportunity to apply what they are learning in our ENGR 408: Leadership Principles course to develop solutions to real-world design problems relating to airports and the National Airspace System,” said Abbie Canale, assistant teaching professor in the Penn State School of Engineering Design and Innovation (SEDI). “Students take turns leading their teams through the engineering design process for two-week periods to develop in their personal leadership and prepare for their future engineering careers. ACRP is a great partner in organizing the competition and providing students access to resources needed to foster innovative solutions.”

The students, studying a variety of engineering disciplines, were all enrolled in ENGR 408: Leadership Principles, the entry course to the engineering leadership development minor. Each team also included a faculty adviser:

First place in airport operations and maintenance category 

  • Project: RunwAI 
  • Students: Taylor Casavant, computer science; James Fong, electrical engineering; Sydney McKernan, biomedical engineering; Kieran Meehan, industrial engineering; Dale Miller, mechanical engineering 
  • Faculty adviser: Abbie Canale 

Third place in airport environmental interactions category 

  • Project: Infrared Beam Sensor System for Escalator and Moving Walkway Power Consumption Reduction 
  • Students: Collin Price, engineering science; Joshua Christ, electrical engineering; Abby Chang, mechanical engineering; Taylor Pierce, computer science; Victor Yang, mechanical engineering 
  • Faculty adviser: Abbie Canale 

Honorable mention in airport operations and maintenance category 

  • Project: AirRail Foreign Object Detection System 
  • Students: Isaac Kim, mechanical engineering; Aaditya Suryavanshi, computer science; Christopher Stoodley, civil engineering; Zachary Debnar, electro-mechanical engineering technology at Penn State Altoona 
  • Faculty adviser: Steve Betza, SEDI professor of practice 

Honorable mention in runway safety/runway incursions/runway excursions category 

  • Project: The Airport GPS 
  • Students: Victor Baran, aerospace engineering; Christopher Correll, computer science; Jeremy Krise, mechanical engineering; Jeremy Lehman, mechanical engineering; Conner Popo, materials science 
  • Faculty adviser: Paul Meister, SEDI lecturer 

Honorable mention in airport management and planning category 

  • Project: From Today’s Airports to Tomorrow’s Spaceports: Preparation for Commercial Space Travel Through the Implementation of Liquid Hydrogen Fuel Production, Storage, and Delivery 
  • Students: Ciara Grasso, engineering science; Erika Long, electrical engineering; Chase Mattern, mechanical engineering; Anurag Roa, computer science 
  • Faculty Adviser: Paul Meister 



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