FAA announces 2021 Airport Design Challenge for Students

Students in the competition will develop development plans for layout, pavement, lighting, structures and innovative growth. Adobe Stock

The FAA announced this week that registration will open for the 2021 Aviation and Space Education (AVSED) Airport Design Challenge on November 1.

The challenge consists of an annual competition in which K-12 students are invited to participate. They’ll have the opportunity to network with aviation professionals, learn about the aerospace industry, and collaborate with other students.

“The Airport Design Challenge is a perfect fit of science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] which is so much a part of what we do at the FAA and so important to pass on to the next generation,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.

The Challenge

Over the course of seven weeks, STEM students will work in small teams to learn about their local airport and complete development phases using the game Minecraft. Development phases include:

Participants will complete development phases using the game Minecraft. FAA
  • Airport layout
  • Pavement
  • Lighting
  • Structures
  • Innovative growth

Students will compete in primary and non-primary airport categories. There are two age groups for each category, K-6 and 7-12.

Program facilitators will test the students’ knowledge with weekly quizzes and screen shot working designs. They’ll also give students feedback on their work throughout the challenge.

While designing the airports, students will have guidance from FAA aerospace and engineering experts. The first-hand experience provided by the challenge will help students apply their academic knowledge and skills to professional simulations.

In the end, the students will be judged by their technical accuracy, creativity, innovation, and presentation skills. Winners will be given medals and certificates from the FAA.

Who Can Participate?

The virtual event is open to both U.S. and international students. Last year, approximately 800 students participated and many more are expected this year.

“The one thing that I found most intriguing about this whole program, was that the Airport Design Challenge allows students of all ages to compete at a global level, while also being able to have fun and learn at the same time,” said Arjun Saini a lead on Team Aireos, which placed in the top three during last year’s challenge.

Beginning November 1, students can register here.

Based in Texas, Ashley is the former Marketing Manager at FLYING and focuses deeply on training and education. She graduated from the Baylor Institute for Air Science with a Bachelor's in Aviation Science and holds an MBA specializing in Marketing. She is an also instrument rated private pilot and licensed FAA dispatcher.

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