FAA-sponsored Airport Cooperative Research Program’s University Design Competition

The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP), a program of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, is sponsoring a national competition for universities that engages students in addressing issues relating to airports and the National Airspace System. The Competition builds upon the former FAA Design Competition for Universities which has now become an ACRP program funded by the FAA. The Competition is managed for the ACRP by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium of Hampton, Va.

This Competition challenges individuals and teams of undergraduate and/or graduate students working with faculty advisors at U.S. colleges and universities to consider innovative approaches related to airport issues. Students can win cash prizes for their winning innovative design solutions. First place winners present their work at a national award ceremony. Full details are provided in the competition guidelines.

This Competition focuses on design solutions in the following broad areas: Airport Safety, Operations, and Maintenance; Passenger Experience and Innovations in Airport Terminal Design; Airport Environmental Interactions; and Airport Management and Planning. Some specific challenge areas are defined in the Technical Design Challenges section of the guidelines. Students are not limited to the suggested topical areas listed. They are free to propose design solutions based on other topics that fit the four broad challenge areas.

ACRP gratefully acknowledges the following partners who provide expert advisors, reviewers and publicity for the Competition: American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), Airport Consultants Council (ACC), Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA), The National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) and University Aviation Association (UAA).

Competition Goals

  1. Raise awareness of the benefits of the Airport Cooperative Research Program and the importance of airports to the National Airspace System infrastructure.
  2. Increase the involvement of the academic community in ACRP and addressing airport operations and infrastructure issues and needs.
  3. Engage students at U.S. colleges and universities in the conceptualization of applications, systems and equipment capable of addressing related challenges in a robust, reliable and comprehensive manner.
  4. Encourage undergraduate and graduate students at U.S. colleges and universities to contribute innovative ideas and solutions to issues facing airports and the National Airspace System.
  5. Provide a framework and incentives for quality educational experiences for university students.
  6. Develop an awareness of and an interest in airports as vital and interesting areas for engineering and technology careers.


  • September 28, 2023
    Fall Semester -Notice of Intent recommended deadline.
  • January 26, 2024
    Spring semester – Notice of Intent recommended deadline.
  • May 10, 2024
    Electronic submission deadline.

Click here to learn more about guidelines and submission.