Frequently asked questions

Q&A Session #1: Presentation and Recording

Q&A Session #2: Presentation and Recording

I attend a university outside of the United States. Can I still apply to the FAA Data Challenge?

Eligibility is limited to students from colleges and universities in the United States. Additionally, all team members, including all faculty advisors and students, must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

Are international students eligible to participate in the FAA Data Challenge?

No, international students are not eligible to participate in this Challenge. Team members must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Please refer to the Eligibility section in the Challenge Guidelines for a list of all eligibility requirements.

Can Green Card holders participate?
Yes. Team members, including all faculty advisors and students, must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States.
Can teams work with industry partners?

Yes, teams may collaborate with industry partners if desired. Industry partners and point of contact should be included on the cover page of the Abstract.

Am I eligible to participate if my last quarter as a Master’s student is in Fall 2022?

Yes, you are still eligible to participate as long as you are enrolled during one semester of the 2022-2023 academic year. Per the Eligibility requirements section, “Student team members must have been enrolled in a US-based college/university for at least one semester (or quarter equivalent) during the 2022-2023 academic year.”

Can interns at the FAA participate?

Yes, FAA interns are welcome to participate through their university.

Would the students have access to data from the competition? Or do they have to find data sources on their own?

The data needed will be defined by the problem or need the team decides to explore.  Please visit the resources section for past examples of research for project ideas and visit the link to the sites below for data sets available to the public.  If your team has questions in the future about a specific data set, please send it to the challenge email,

FAA Data Portal
FAA Data & Research site

Is it possible to access successful competition submissions from previous years to learn from past student work?

This is the FAA’s first Data Challenge. In previous years, other challenges have been conducted with a different focus to include Smart Connected Aviation and Smart Airports — examples from previous successful teams of the 2020-2022 FAA Challenge are available on the website, (2020 and 2021 are listed under the “Archives” tab).The FAA has also partnered with universities through the federally funded research. Participants are encouraged to explore past projects archived in the technical library.

Are you open to reconsidering the potential participation of non-US persons? Given that this is a data science challenge and a very large percentage of our students are not US citizens/residents, it would make a lot of sense to include them in the challenge.

At this time, non-US citizens/residents are not eligible to participate. The FAA will take this feedback and explore whether this is a possibility for future challenges.

I have a question regarding the data and datasets that we can have access to. One of our team’s potential ideas is to use ACARS data files to develop an AI system that can be used for hazard identification and prediction. However, we were wondering if you can help us find sample ACARS data files that contain operating APU data such as load compressor inlet temperature, load compressor discharge temperature, oil temperature, exhaust temperature, etc. We have been able to find some ACARS dataset from, however it seems like the files only contain meteorological data.

Other datasets may be found on the FAA Data Portal, Data & Research site, and Sherlock Data Warehouse (see links on Resources page of website). We encourage teams to research and include in your Abstracts, then reach out to us again with specific data assets that are of interest to your team.

Will any datasets be provided to train/validate potential ML algorithms? If not, what are some recommended public/freely available datasets?

There are several datasets that are publicly available. We can work to provide a list and the location where the data is available. Examples: FAA Accident/Incident Database (AIDS), Service Difficulty Reporting System (SDRS), NTSB (authoritative source of aviation accidents and incidents), etc. FAA will gather resources and share directly with this team soon.

How do we ensure that we’re solving a problem that isn’t already solved?

We will be looking for Originality! We are seeking new approaches that are different than what FAA and other research projects have been done before. We highly encourage participants to do research to learn more about what has been done or mentioned in that particular topic.

How much of the final how much of the solution are you looking to see? Are you looking to see a prototype system that could be deployed or are you looking for ideas to apply AI and ML to solve a industry problem?

It is optional to have a proof of concept. Being able to demonstrate the viability of your idea whether it’s using sample data or actual data that you were able to access but enough so that your idea can be well understood by those who are going to be evaluating it to understand how it can be applied.

Are you looking for accompanying code for the abstract?

We are not looking for the code when you’re submitting the abstract.

Is a LaTeX template available?

No.  You are not required to follow any template for the Abstract. Please be sure to follow the simple formatting instructions and include the required elements as detailed on the Abstract webpage.

Does the abstract need to contain a demonstration of the idea on this application? Or is a description of the idea/technique and/or a demonstration on another application sufficient?

No, the Abstract does not need to include a demonstration. You will have time to build out your solution after Finalist Teams are selected and such details may be included in the Technical Paper.

Does the works cited page(s) (references) count towards the 12 page maximum on the abstract?

No, your Works Cited will not be counted as part of your 12-page max.

Technical Paper: “graphic or image of concept”

We understand that some solutions may not produce a project concept graphic. Therefore the bullet in the Requirements document has been updated to “Graphic or image of concept, if applicable.” If a project does have some sort of identifiable graphic, it’s nice to include on the cover to help the judges.

Technical Paper: In the Requirements document, the project is often referred to as a “concept.” Does this imply that the FAA does not anticipate a fully developed project, but rather a fully developed logical plan for one?

The ambiguous term “concept” is used because we want teams to present their solution at whatever level it can be developed during this timeframe.

For the Challenge purposes, we understand you are constrained by many variables – time and cost being large ones. The FAA is seeking new ideas of how to use AI/ML and data analytics to solve current problems. So, if the scope of your project is larger than you can fulfill during the academic year or would require external resources, it’s certainly expected that you may not have a “finished” product by June. Therefore, we are asking for “concepts,” which can be your potential solution and plan of action.

The Evaluation Criteria may help you understand how the judges will be considering each presentation – for instance, “can be implemented,” “approach to solving the problem,” “described the depth of integration required to implement the innovation”…

Also keep in mind the required sections of the paper – problem statement, solution definition, methodology, and key findings.

Of course, the further you can go with your research and show how implementation of your concept (idea/solution/innovation) will benefit the FAA with these challenges will be favorable. If you are presenting a solution that cannot be fully developed during this Challenge timeline, be sure to describe how you envision it being implemented and why you expect it to make a significant impact.

Technical Paper: Should short biographies about the authors be included in the paper?

No, biographies are not required to be included in the technical paper. However, resumes may be uploaded (optional) on the Registration Form to be shared with our Steering Committee.

Technical Paper: Should the executive summary be one paragraph or should there be one paragraph for the problem statement, one paragraph for the problem-solving approach, and one paragraph for the innovative impact?

The Executive Summary is intended to give the judges a brief overall understanding of your project before they delve into the “Body of Report” details. The “requirement” is to explain all/any of those details as appropriate for your project – which is usually clearly written as separate paragraphs, but the formatting (ie, number of paragraphs) can be customized to your work.

Poster: Do you have a template for the poster presentation?

There is no prescribed format per se, but there are a few guidelines. The posters should be “standard size” (48” x 36”) and printed horizontally. Specific details for all of the deliverables is included in the Deliverables Requirements document. In the past, we were more prescriptive on what needs to be on the poster, but this year the requirements didn’t need to be so defined. Obviously, make sure your project title and team are listed. And the rest should expound upon any important concepts and provide visuals to guide your poster presentation discussions with the judges.

Posters will be evaluated on the visual presentation and your ability to provide details about the project. It counts only 5% toward your team’s final scoring.

You may look at posters presented for our 2022 FAA Challenge at (and 2020-2021 under the Archives tab), but the goal and themes were quite different from this year.

I also found a couple of sites from UNC that may be helpful:

Forum: . Will there be an opportunity to check-in the morning of the 21st?

Yes, there is also time (8-9am) on Wed before the Forum begins that you can check in. We are just doing the Tues night one to save time and crowd control that morning. A table will be set up in front of the Auditorium.

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