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MJ Advisors Participate in Binghamton University's National Design Competition Win for the Second Year in a Row

2010 FAA Design Competition for Universities

2010 9Sept 16 FAA CompetionFor the second year in a row, MJ participated as advisors to students from Binghamton University (BU) and the Greater Binghamton Airport (BGM) in the FAA's National Design Competition for Universities, a competition that engages college students to develop solutions to relevant aviation industry challenges in a variety of different categories.

The team won First Place in the Airport Environmental Interactions category for their design titled "Utilizing Wind Energy to Provide Runway Lighting at Remote Airports". Their concept was to create a lighting system for remote airports, without a utility power source, so that planes can depart and arrive during nighttime hours and inclement weather without depending on access to "the grid". Several of MJ's staff worked closely with the students, to develop a cost-effective, redundant system comprised of small wind turbines, switches, battery banks and LED lights capable of providing enough lighting needed for a safe landing area (including runway end lights and edge lights).

The project resulted in a practical solution to a major airport challenge that affects many remote airports, those located mainly in Alaska and the Northwest, and similar technology may have application beyond these areas. The team was asked by the FAA to present their work at one of the world's largest aviation expositions, The Oshkosh AirVenture in Wisconsin, during the summer of 2011.

FAA Funding a Prototype of the Team's Winning 2009 Design Competition Submittal

It was announced on September 14th, 2009, that BGM would serve as the test bed for an airport geothermal project. A $1.4 million grant from the FAA Research Grant program was presented, which will be used to fund the installation of a radiant geothermal heating prototype. The joint project originated from the winning 2009 FAA Design Competition submittal, developed by Binghamton University, in concert with BGM and McFarland Johnson. Professionals from MJ provided the team with engineering guidance and aviation industry insight as the students proposed removing snow and ice from airport pavement in critical areas using geothermal heat under the runways to melt ice and snow on the black top.

With its practical and environmentally-sensitive applications, the concept gained interest following the contest, and as a result, discussions began almost immediately with local officials to fund a prototype, which would make the idea a reality.

MJ has been involved with the design of BGM's main apron rehabilitation project and work began on re-paving the main ramp this month. The project requires removal of the old pavement, offering a perfect opportunity to install the heating prototype under the newly paved surface. Integrating the geothermal prototype work into the design of the main apron rehabilitation project is proving to be relatively seamless and the unified project is expected to be completed in Summer 2011.

In keeping with our company's tag line, "Innovative Solutions/Sustainable Designs", McFarland Johnson is constantly looking to improve our processes, designs and interaction with the community. The FAA design competition offers an opportunity to work with some great young minds to help develop sustainable solutions to the day-to-day challenges our clients face.

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