Hampton University
Hampton University Aviation Department Finishes in Top 3 of the 2021 FAA Challenge: Smart Airport Student Competition
07/02/2021 - #1

HAMPTON, VA (July 2, 2022) — A team of six Hampton University Aviation students finished in the top 3 of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Smart Airport Challenge. The students developed a concept that could change the way runway inspections are carried out at airports across the nation. 

“Congratulations to these wonderfully talented students. They represented Hampton fully through their character of remaining a strong team through a stressful situation and their creativity in developing a new means for airports to conduct inspections. Their efforts demonstrate why Hampton University students are continually being sought out by industry leaders worldwide by making the final three in a nationwide completion,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey. 

This year, the 2021 FAA Challenge: Smart Airport Student Competition asked students to consider the cutting-edge needs of the FAA and smart airports of the future.

Inspector Drover will allow for airport operations managers and specialists to conduct runway and airfield inspections using aerial and ground drones. Using unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) at airports in this manner will allow for more efficient operations, accurate data collection with high-resolution photos for documentation, and the ability to detect the presence of foreign object debris (FOD) on the runway.

“Participating in this challenge has been a fun experience. Having to work virtual on this unique competition was going to be hard being virtual, but I’m glad to work with other smart minds in the department and we managed to work efficiently, and I know we have the talent to win in the end,” said Julian Payne-Dillard, graduating Air Traffic Control senior and team lead.

The other members of the team are Ryan Ford, a graduating senior, Ellis Woodyard, Flight Education junior, and Sophomores Myles Divinity, Griffin Weathers, and Montá Williams.

“I am extremely proud of the students. The ability to collaborate on this concept and put together a proposal to submit inside of three weeks and do it remotely is a testament to how hard the students worked,” said Andrew Smith, Aviation Assistant Professor and the Faculty Advisor for the team.


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