DOT RAISE Award encourages Aviation and Aerospace Science and Engineering Innovation

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US Transportation Secretary Recognizes University of Arkansas Student With Award for Work on Solar Airfield Pavement Anti-Icing Systems

Recognizing Aviation and Aerospace Innovation in Science and Engineering award (RAISE)

Awarded to Arkansas PHD candidate

Solar Powered system heats runways

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has honored University of Arkansas graduate student Joseph Daniels with the Recognizing Aviation and Aerospace Innovation in Science and Engineering award (RAISE). The award recognizes innovative scientific and engineering achievements that will have a significant impact on the future of aerospace or aviation.


DanielsDaniels, a doctoral candidate in civil engineering, is developing an anti-icing pavement system designed to improve airfield safety during extreme weather. The system aims to use renewable solar energy to lower operational costs of heating surfaces to prevent flight delays, cancellations and potential accidents. The idea is to incorporate wiring into concrete, then use solar energy to power the transfer of heat through the wires to warm the pavement.


“My system runs like a thermostat,” Daniels said. “When the concrete drops below a certain temperature, it turns on, and that’s with or without snow.”


Dan Elwell, acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, commended Daniels for his innovative solution that addresses multiple components of the FAA’s mission.Dan Elwell


“Mr. Daniels reflects a passion for aviation improvements overall and shows a willingness to continue to explore additional solutions to a problem.”

ernie heymsfieldDaniels, who applied for the honor at the urging of his adviser Ernie Heymsfield, was stunned when he learned he won the RAISE award.

“I had prayed about it and kept it in my prayer journal for a long time,” he said. “Being able to have this was outstanding. It definitely brought a smile to my face and an amazement about what God can do.”

Accolades are not new for Daniels. He was awarded the Department of Transportation’s Dwight David Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship in 2015, 2016 and 2017, presented a talk at a TEDx event in 2016 and was selected to present his research at the Transportation Regional Board conference in 2017

A native of Silver Spring, Maryland, Daniels earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. While in Durham, NC, he served as NCA&T_Sealchapter president of the NC A&T chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineering (participating on the concrete canoe team and steel bridge team), an ambassador for the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Scholars at NC A&T,founded/led the Civil Engineering Department Student Advisor Board, Co-Leader of the College Of Engineering Ambassadors and was a mentor in the University’s Honors Program, providing leadership and direction to honors freshmen in their development through their first year of college


MarathonFor two summers, he has interned with Marathon Petroleum in Findlay, Ohio.


He is on track to compete his doctorate at the University of Arkansas in summer 2018.




RAISE is a partnership of government and private sector organizations. Eligible competitors are US citizen(s) (teams allowed) who are in high school, college or graduate school.  The rules are as follows:


  1. Candidates who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and who have been enrolled for at least two semesters at a high school (or equivalent approved home school program), college, or university are eligible to receive the award.
  2. Students may participate as individuals or in groups.  Each member of the group must meet the above criteria.

Further, to be eligible for this challenge, every candidate –

  1. Shall first submit a project in the competition under the rules promulgated by the U.S. Department of Transportation;
  2. Shall agree to execute indemnifications and waivers of claims against the federal government as provided in the registration materials;
  3. May not be a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of employment; and
  4. May not be an employee of the Department of Transportation or the Federal Aviation Administration.

A candidate shall not be deemed ineligible because the individual used Federal facilities or consulted with Federal employees during a competition, if the facilities and employees are made available to all individuals participating in the competition on an equitable basis.

Federal grantees may not use Federal funds to develop COMPETES Act challenge applications unless such use is consistent with the purpose of their grant award.

Final submission packages shall consist of the following elements:

  1. Nomination letter from at least one teacher, advisor, faculty member, and others as appropriate.  The nomination letter(s) must communicate the following accomplishments in two areas:
    1. Technical Merit of the Concept
      Evidence of technical merit based upon teacher (parent or legal guardian in the case of home schooled applicants), advisor, or faculty nomination and evaluation of the submitted proposal, written paper, and/or reports.
    2. Professionalism and Leadership
      Evidence of professionalism and leadership may be in the form of, but not limited to:
      1) Membership and offices held in various groups
      2) Presentations made to various groups, meetings, and at symposia
      3) Leadership in student professional activities
      4) Community outreach activities
  2. An overall summary of the innovation, not to exceed one page, which includes a title of the project and statement of the impact that the innovation will have on the field of aviation or aerospace;
  3. A copy of the student’s academic transcript or certified grade report (as applicable);
  4. A copy of the paper(s) and related materials describing the innovative concept written by the student(s) being nominated (no page limit).

Once submissions have been received, the Department may request additional information, including supporting documentation, more detailed contact information, releases of liability, and statements of authenticity to guarantee the originality of the work.  Failure to respond in a timely fashion may result in disqualification.

  • Initial Review
    Submissions will be judged by advisory panels consisting of academic experts, government officials including FAA, the Department, and representatives of the private sector. Highly qualified entrants will be presented to the Secretary to select a winner.
  • Overview
    All factors are important and will be given consideration, but the advisory panels will give the “technical merit” factor the most weight in the screening process. The Secretary retains sole discretion to select the winning entrant.
  • Technical Merit
    Presents a clear understanding of the associated problems. Developed a logical and workable solution and approach to solving the problem/s. Clearly demonstrates the breadth of impact of the innovation.
  • Originality
    Is this concept new or a variation of an existing idea, and in what way(s)? How is this work unique? Was the concept developed independently or in cooperation with others?
  • Impact
    To what extent will this project make a significant impact and/or contribution to the future of the aviation and aerospace environment?
  • Practicality
    Who directly benefits from this work? Can this program or activity be implemented in a practical fashion? What are the costs anticipated to be incurred and saved by executing this concept?
  • Measurability
    How has this individual/group measured the impact on the aviation environment? To what extent does the innovation result in measurable improvements?




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