ACRP Academic Engagement Programs

The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) conducts applied research to develop practical, ready-to-implement products that address pressing problems in the airport industry. ACRP is administered by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Research is conducted by contractors with oversight provided by volunteer panels of expert stakeholders. TRB activities provide significant benefits including networking with the professional community, receiving valuable and timely information about ongoing research, and contributing to the broader transportation community.  ACRP currently manages two academic engagement programs: the Graduate Research Award (GRA) and the University Design Competition (UDC). These two programs have had a major impact on building excitement around and attracting students to the airport industry. At the same time, the airport industry recognizes a continued need to increase the number and diversity of young people exploring and entering its workforce in technical and nontechnical disciplines. In responding to these industry challenges, ACRP seeks to increase the visibility of the two existing academic engagement programs and, in turn, attract new interest to the airport industry.  The ACRP GRA is intended to stimulate thought, discussion, and research by those who may become future airport managers, operators, designers, and policymakers. The focus of this graduate student research program is to foster applied research on airport and related aviation system issues that, in turn, helps the public sector continue to improve the quality, reliability, safety, and security of the U.S. civil aviation system well into the foreseeable future. The program has been in existence since the 1980s and currently funds and supports up to 12 new awardees per cycle. Awardees receive a $12,000 stipend, access to a panel of expert advisors in their research field, an opportunity to present at the TRB Annual Meeting following completion of their research and the development of their paper, and the potential to publish that paper in the Transportation Research Record. Since 2010, more than 120 students representing more than 80 universities have participated. The ACRP UDC engages undergraduate and graduate students at U.S. colleges and universities in the conceptualization of applications, systems, and equipment capable of addressing airport related challenges in a robust, reliable, and comprehensive manner.  Applicants can apply as individuals or as a team and have access to industry experts and airport operators with whom they can vet their ideas. Cash awards are given to the top teams from each of four general challenge categories: Airport Safety, Operations, and Maintenance; Passenger Experience and Innovations in Airport Terminal Design; Airport Environmental Interactions; and Airport Management and Planning. These categories were updated for the 2023-2024 academic year and can change based on the current needs and interest within the industry.  First place teams are offered the opportunity to attend an award ceremony in Washington, DC and present at an industry conference in the following year. The competition has engaged more than 2,600 participants from more than 80 universities under the leadership of at least 160 faculty advisors. The objectives of this project are to provide support for (1) the ACRP GRA; and (2) the ACRP UDC.  This support includes plans to evaluate program effectiveness and propose improvements, expanding the geographic and institutional reach of both programs. Amplify and develop new: (1) Marketing opportunities; (2) Coordination efforts including the engagement of historically black colleges and universities and other underrepresented universities and colleges; and  (3) Relationships with transportation-focused education institutions, faculty members, research consortiums, student organizations, and professional societies. The ACRP academic engagement programs should identify high-impact opportunities to enhance the awareness of airport related careers in a manner that supports diversity, inclusion, and accessibility.  


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $up to $600,000 per year
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 11-04B

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591
  • Project Managers:

    Griffin, Matthew

  • Start Date: 20240102
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01894688
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 11-04B
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Sep 26 2023 4:41PM