Submissions for the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs are now open. Design proposals are due April 29.


Students win cash prizes and the university receives special recognition.  First place will receive $3,000, second place will receive $2,000, and third place will receive $1,000.  First place winners present their designs at a special ceremony at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in Washington, DC and at a relevant national conference with travel expenses covered.


The Competition challenges both individuals and teams of undergraduate and graduate students working under the guidance of a faculty advisor to address issues currently facing airports and the National Airspace System.  The Competition offers open-ended, real-world issues in four broad challenge areas:  Airport Operation and Maintenance; Runway Safety, Runway Incursions and Runway Excursions; Airport Environmental Interactions, and Airport Management and Planning.  The challenges can be tackled by students from many STEM disciplines; business, computer science and psychology among others.


In addition to last year’s topics, the following new topics have been added:

  • Improved alternative power modes for ground support equipment.
  • Enhancing potential for resilience and sustainability of airport improvement projects in response to climate change effects or other naturally occurring catastrophic events such as hurricanes and other extreme weather events, sea-level rise and changing weather patterns.
  • Innovative approaches to building and maintaining workforce capacity at airports in response to changing demographics, influence of emerging technologies, institutional changes, and other relevant factors.


Feedback from faculty and student evaluations on the educational value of the Competition has been extremely positive.  They consistently cite the value of the open-ended challenges, real-world problems and access to airport operators and industry experts.   The Competition is often used in capstone design courses, but has also been used by student chapters of professional societies and as an independent study topic. Airport issues cross a wide range of disciplines relating to the management, safety, capacity and efficiency of the nation’s airports.


Additional information regarding the ACRP University Design Competition can be found at the Competition web site located at

The updated guidelines for submission are can be found at