About us

steering committee

Gian Burdhimo

FAA Air Traffic

Gian Burdhimo is the Data Program Manager in the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization. He works with the executives of the Data Evolution Leadership Team (DELT) to champion the ATO’s data activities and initiatives. He also supports the ATO’s Safety and Technical Training Policy and Performance Director, and serves on the Operations Review Board as the Safety, Training, and Systems Engineering subject matter expert to administer the congressional allocation of operational funds across ATO service units. 

Jeff Carter

FAA Safety

Jeff Carter is the Manager of the Safety Analysis Branch in the Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention (AVP). He supports FAA initiatives related to data integration, predictive analytics, and data visualization. His office also leads the Safety Data and Analysis Team (SDAT) and Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing System (ASIAS). He has worked in various capacities supporting aviation safety analysis for the past 20 years and has been a manager in AVP since 2017.

Dr. Misty Davies


Dr. Misty Davies is the Project Manager for the System-Wide Safety Project in the NASA Airspace Operations and Safety Program. The System-Wide Safety Project has a goal to explore, to discover and to understand how safety could be affected by the growing complexity of advanced aviation systems. In particular, the System-Wide Safety project is leading the development of the In-Time Aviation Safety Management System (IASMS) and is working on tools and techniques to enable the assurance of increasingly autonomous systems. Prior to SWS, Dr. Davies was the Ground System Development manager for the TESS mission. Dr. Davies previously was a researcher focused on predicting the behavior of complex, engineered systems early in design as a way to improve these systems' safety, reliability, performance, and cost. She has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Aerospace and Astrospace Engineering from Stanford University. She is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Marseta Dill


Marseta Dill is currently the Deputy Chief Data Officer at the Federal Aviation Administration. This entails providing leadership for FAA’s Data Strategy and enterprise capabilities needed to execute on the vision. Prior to this role, Ms. Dill spent most of her FAA career in the NextGen organization serving in various roles including Chief of Staff, Technical Advisor, and Portfolio Manager. She has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Masters in Computer and Systems Engineering, and Certificate in Data Analytics.

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Gabriel Elkin

MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Gabriel Elkin is the Assistant Leader of the Air Traffic Control Systems Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. In this role, he oversees research in the areas of aviation cyber security, information architectures and weather sensing technologies. Gabe joined the Laboratory in 1988 as a software engineering subcontractor developing aircraft tracking algorithms, and became a Technical Staff member in the ATC Systems Group in 1996 and later the Weather Sensing Group, where he led the successful development, field testing, and technology transfer of a major processing augmentation to the aircraft surveillance radar (ASR-9PAC) and the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) receiver and data acquisition system. He also served two field assignments spanning 7 years at the Reagan Test Site (RTS) on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands as a command and control systems engineer and field site manager. In between Kwaj tours, he spent 2 years overseeing research in the area of homeland security and disaster preparedness. Prior to joining the Laboratory, Gabe worked at the MITRE Corporation in Bedford, MA, where he developed software systems for surveillance and communication applications. He received a MS from Boston University in Computer Science, and a BS in Applied Math & Computer Science from Union College in Schenectady, NY.

Brian O'Donnell


Brian O’Donnell is a senior project manager and AI subject matter expert at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Before joining Volpe, Brian worked on machine learning, computer vision, and signal processing technologies in industry and the private sector. He served as the Vice President of Technology for G4S, the world’s largest security company, and was their subject matter expert for biometrics and intelligent surveillance. Brian invented AI-based stock trading algorithms for a start-up company working as a 'Wall Street Quant.' Brian has a B.S. in Applied Physics and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering and is a doctoral student in computer science with a specialization in AI. In addition, Brian is a senior member of the I.E.E.E. and holds several U.S. patents for machine learning and image processing applications in the defense and surveillance industries. Brian is a retired Navy officer and spent the last part of his career as an Engineering Duty Officer in the Reserves working on Los Angeles Class nuclear submarines.

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Mike Paglione

FAA Next Gen

Mike Paglione is the Branch Manager of the FAA’s Software and Systems Branch. This Branch conducts research in support of aircraft safety technology development and continued enhancement of aircraft certification procedures, airworthiness standards, operation requirements, inspection and maintenance processes, and safety oversight to achieve the next level of safety. It also includes application of data science technologies and advances in artificial intelligence/machine learning to support aircraft safety and aviation cyber security resiliency. Before taking the Software and Systems Branch Manager position in February 2017, he managed the FAA's Modeling and Simulation Branch for five years and served as a FAA engineer and project lead for 13 years before that. He has extensive experience in air traffic control automation algorithms, simulation problems, analysis of decision support software, applied statistics, and general systems engineering. Mr. Paglione holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Rutgers University.

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Dr. Craig Wanke


Craig Wanke is the Chief Engineer for the MITRE Corporation’s Center for Advanced Aviation System Development. He earned a Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1993, and then joined MITRE, where he has focused on decision support systems for pilots, air traffic controllers, and air traffic managers. Several tools developed under this work have been successfully deployed as part of the U.S. Traffic Flow Management System. He is also responsible for selecting and directing MITRE’s internal research and development program in aviation and transportation, aimed at developing innovative solutions to critical U.S. national problems in those areas. Dr. Wanke is an Associate Fellow of AIAA, an associate editor of the Journal of Air Transportation, and currently serves on the organizing committee for the U.S./Europe ATM Research and Development Seminar series. He has authored more than 100 conference and journal papers on aviation and air traffic management topics.

program team

The FAA Data Challenge is managed by the National Institute of Aerospace on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration.


Shelley Spears

Program Director

Shannon Verstynen

Program Manager
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Lazaro Bosch

Project Coordinator

The National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) is a non-profit research and graduate education institute created to conduct innovative aerospace and atmospheric research, develop new technologies for the nation and help inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

NIA serves as a strategic partner with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the aviation community to enable research creativity and expand technology development opportunities. The Institute integrates research and graduate education while creating new government/academia/industry partnerships to solve tomorrow’s problems today.

For FAA Data Challenge inquiries, please contact the Program Team at FAADataChallenge@NIAnet.org.

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