FAA to fund students’ airport pavement project
September 21, 2010Tweet
Through collaboration between Binghamton University, the Southern Tier Economic Partnership (STEP) and other local organizations, STEP – a countywide economic development organization – has been awarded a $374,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Research Grant program to fund phase I of a $1.4 million project at the Greater Binghamton Airport.
The project – installation of a radiant geothermal heating prototype – is the culmination of a computer science class project that took first place in the 2009 FAA Design Competition.
The winning paper proposed removal of snow and ice from airport pavement by using sustainable geothermal technology to warm the pavement surface. Practical and environmentally sensitive, the concept caught the attention of the FAA and the aviation industry after it took first place in the competition’s operation and maintenance category. Discussions began almost immediately with local officials regarding FAA interest in funding a prototype to make the concept a reality.
The Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science students who devised the winning entry were led by Binghamton University Associate Professor William Ziegler ’76, and advised by Broome County Commissioner of Aviation Carl Beardsley and Chad Nixon, vice president of McFarland-Johnson, Inc.
“This project began as a classroom exercise and has turned into a once-in-a-lifetime partnership between the students of Binghamton University and a number of local government and economic development entities. For our students to see their project come to fruition as a construction project that could benefit the entire aviation industry is truly astounding and I am certainly proud to be part of the experience,” Ziegler said.
The project team includes public and private organizations including STEP, Binghamton University, the Greater Binghamton Airport and local engineering firm McFarland-Johnson, Inc.
“As an organization dedicated to partnerships that improve our community, STEP views this as an excellent opportunity to work with local officials and students on a research project that could have significant benefit for the future,” said Richard D’Attilio, executive director of the Industrial Development Agency and STEP. “We look forward to seeing the results of the project.”
Coincidentally, work will begin this month to rehabilitate the main ramp pavement at the Greater Binghamton Airport. The project requires removal of the old pavement, offering a perfect opportunity to install the heating prototype under the newly paved surface. The unified project is expected to be completed in summer 2011.
“Although just a segment of the ramp will be fitted with the geothermal technology, in the end the research will provide us with the real data needed to determine the extent we could use this in the future,” Beardsley said. “Needless to say, we are proud to have worked with the students of Binghamton University, Professor Ziegler and McFarland-Johnson on this exciting project.”
McFarland-Johnson, Inc., a leading firm in aviation planning/design and sustainable design solutions, provided the team with aviation industry insight and engineering guidance. Nixon emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships within the community. “MJ is constantly looking to improve our processes, designs and interaction with the community,” he said. “The FAA design competition offered an opportunity to work with some great young minds to help develop sustainable solutions to the day-to-day challenges our clients face.”
The FAA competition gives students at U.S. colleges and universities an opportunity to address technical challenges and develop innovative solutions in the areas of Airport Operation and Maintenance, Runway Safety/Runway Incursions, Airport Environmental Interactions, and Airport Management and Planning.