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Jun. 11, 2007
Media Contact: John Blacksten, firstname.lastname@example.org 703-993-9376
Fairfax, Va. (June 11, 2007) - A team of psychology students from George Mason University recently won a design competition sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to improve runway safety at the nation's airports. The FAA sponsored the Airport Design Competition for Universities to engage college students to create innovative solutions to the issues and needs of airport operators.
The team was awarded a $2,500 prize from the FAA. The group will present their work at the American Association of Airport Executives annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on June 12.
The team consisted of doctoral candidates Carl Smith and Peter Squire and master's students Jane Barrow, Kevin Durkee and Jennifer Moore. Raja Parasuraman, professor of psychology, was the team's faculty advisor.
The students designed a system to reduce runway accidents and safety issues called "Runway Incursion Monitoring and Direct Alerting System." Runway incursions - collision hazards that result in a loss of required separation for aircrafts to take off or land - have resulted in some of the most catastrophic aviation accidents in history.
Though multiple solutions have been instituted to improve runway safety, recent data from the FAA indicates that runway incursions are on the rise. As air traffic continues to increase, the need for a solution to prevent runway incursions is critical.
The team members' system utilizes digital wireless transmissions to send an audible alert to pilots and ground operators on the airfield to prevent accidents. The students also conducted a human factors evaluation to ensure that the technology could be used effectively by pilots and other personnel. The system represents an affordable and flexible approach that could be implemented by small and large airports alike.
The competition provided the students with the opportunity to work with airport operators and industry experts to gather information and assess the efficacy of the proposed solutions.
"The opportunity to work on designing a solution to a real-world problem was an empowering experience," said team member Carl Smith. "Interacting with industry experts, aviation professionals and academics exposed us not only to a wealth of information, but a different viewpoint on how the application of human factors principles can save lives."
"In a competition that included submissions from engineering programs and an aerospace engineering department, I am very proud of our students' award-winning proposal," said professor Parasuraman. "I was very impressed with the students' hard work and independence on this project."
The FAA Airport Design Competition is managed for the FAA by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium. Additional information on the competition can be found at:
About the College of Humanities and Social Sciences
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences is a cornerstone of learning and research at George Mason University. Programs of study at the graduate level provide a strong foundation of knowledge rooted in theory and research. Undergraduate students build strengths in writing, leadership and knowledge of global issues. All programs promote the exploration of contemporary issues through integrated interdisciplinary learning that encourages students to forge real-world connections to science, technology and the community. The college boasts a distinguished faculty of over 400 members, including Nobel laureates and recipients of the Pulitzer Prize and the MacArthur and Guggenheim awards.
About George Mason University
George Mason University, located in the heart of Northern Virginia's technology corridor near Washington, D.C., is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with national distinction in a range of academic fields. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care, Mason prepares its alumni to succeed in the workforce and meet the needs of the region and the world. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason's Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Its School of Law is recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 50 law schools in the United States.