Aviation students donate $500 awards to Kent State


Senior aeronautics majors Joshua Mathis, Curtis Rupeka and Ashley Gordon, along with Isaac Nettey, associate dean of the College of Technology, spent four months developing a proposal to better de-ice planes, which won each of the students a $500 award. Photo by Valerie Brown.

Seth Cohen

Four months of work and one honorable mention later, two Kent State students have donated their prize money to the College of Technology.

In April 2010, three students from Kent State’s aviation department submitted a plan to the Federal Aviation Administration Design Competition for Universities. After receiving an honorable mention and $500 each for their proposal to de-ice planes, two of the students donated their winnings back to the university this semester.

“We asked them to focus it on the aeronautics section of the department for new books,” said Ashley Gordon, senior aeronautics major.

Gordon and fellow senior aeronautics majors Curtis Rupeka and Joshua Mathis said they heard about the award from Isaac Nettey, associate dean in the College of Technology. While excited, Rupeka said it was stressful to finally reach that point.

“We had a lot of ideas, but they were turned down,” Rupeka said. “So for the first few weeks, we were trying to come up with other ideas to submit to the competition, and they really liked (the one we chose).”

Their proposal worked to find cheap and alternative ways to de-ice aircrafts, and it focused on infrared technology.

“It is like one big heating lamp,” Nettey said, “with big heaters surrounding every end of the building to heat up the whole plane.”

Heating would help ensure planes have the lift they need to take off properly, Mathias said, which is why planes don’t take off when there’s snow. Not only are the runways slippery, but also the ice and snow affect the structure of the plane.

“This technology allows airports to save money,” Gordon said. “It’s also non-toxic, unlike the chemical they use, called ethylene glycol.”

About 50 schools were in the national competition, and according to the FAA Competition for Universities records, Kent State remains the only school in Ohio to receive an honorary mention.

“Honorary mention does not mean they won,” Nettey said. “But it means the judges recognized their ideas and could not ignore it because it means something.”

Rupeka and Gordon chose to donate their winnings to the College of Technology, Nettey said, so they could be put to good use for future students.

“They gave the money back, which is such a rare opportunity for students to do,” he said. “I’m very pleased to have worked with them.”

Contact Seth Cohen at [email protected].