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Rowan University Students’ Drone Cage Meets FAA’s Aviation STEM Challenge Head On: Don’t Miss It at Tech Center Tuesday!

By Kristen Knott, ATCA Writer and Editor

A visit to Tech Center Tuesday isn’t complete without stopping to admire the drone cage. Luckily, it’s impossible to miss in the center of the atrium. The drone zone cage is the centerpiece of the event and a representation of the Tech Center’s collaboration with government, academia, and industry. The drone cage was on full display yesterday during the Tech Center’s first-ever Aviation STEM Day with 114 registered students from 22 schools and universities. The drone zone cage was designed by Rowan University engineering students and built by the FAA. "It’s a perfect aviation STEM example," says Karen DiMeo, UAS R&D Technical Lead for the FAA’s Tech Center, who helped spearhead the project from the FAA side. "This is a great opportunity to showcase it, and we’re actually getting real data from it." "The cage itself strikes a presence, but what happens inside is equally as fascinating," says Sean Fischer, Associate Dean for External Affairs for Rowan University, who helped coordinate the effort. Inside the cage, each drone is streaming positional data live over the FAA’s NextGen Prototyping Network (NPN) back to the Virtual Reality Laboratory at Rowan University, all of which is on display next to the cage. This enables Rowan University researchers to simulate visual acquisition of UAS using state-of-the-art computer imaging and mapping technologies. The project came together in a matter of weeks. It all began in March when the FAA reached out to Rowan University for students to submit concept designs. The drone cage data and technology was developed between the Tech Center labs and Rowan University’s virtual reality CAVE lab as part of a grant with the university. "I would give the leadership credit on this project back to our students – they really embraced this project," says Fischer. "We have a long history of strong collaboration with the FAA in terms of supporting research and with our students interning and moving on into careers with [the Agency]. It reflects the hands-on, minds-on philosophy of our engineering education at the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering."

A group of Rowan University students pauses for a picture with FAA Tech Center UAS R&D Technical
Lead Karen DiMeo.

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  • 06 Jun 2018
    Hon. Linda Hall Daschle Named 2018 Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award Winner

    The Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) is pleased to announce that former FAA Acting Administrator Linda Hall Daschle has been selected as the 2018 recipient of the prestigious Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award, one of the most prominent awards in aviation and ATCA’s highest honor.

    A pioneer for women in air traffic management, Daschle was the first female to hold the post of Acting Administrator for the FAA. She began her aviation career in Kansas nearly 45 years ago as a licensed weather observer for the agency. In 1993, she was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the US Senate for the position of FAA Deputy Administrator. One of her first tasks involved an assessment of the agency’s key air traffic modernization program called the Advanced Automation System which was eventually overhauled, saving the agency an estimated $1.6 billion. She also oversaw the advancement of new regional airline safety regulations and conducted a review of the agency’s safety and surveillance program, which resulted in one of the single largest hires of new safety inspectors in FAA history. 

    Ms. Daschle has held numerous government and private-sector leadership positions, including with the American Association of Airport Executives, the Air Transport Association, the former Civil Aeronautics Board, and with the law firm of Baker Donelson. She is currently President of LHD & Associates, Inc, and serves on the board of Aireon, LLC.

    In accepting the Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award, Ms. Daschle joins aviation greats, including Delta’s Richard Anderson, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi, the Hon. Jane Garvey, Boeing’s Neil Planzer, former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, and pilot A. Scott Crossfield. (View press release HERE.)

    Tickets will be available this month. For more information, visit

    Established in Washington, D.C., in 1956 by a group of air traffic controllers, the Air Traffic Control Association has been from the outset dedicated to progress in the science of air traffic control and the preservation of a safe flight environment.
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