Student team shares national Boeing competition win

Joelle Chia, Prof. Tim Ropp, Steven Pugia, and Keyrse Deng, with award-winning new software Buzzle.Aviation Technology’s Hangar of the Future team has been selected as a co-winner of Boeing Corporation’s inaugural Information Technology Case Competition for developing a software application design for use in object recognition.

Joelle Chia, a senior in aeronautical engineering technology, Yun Keryse Deng, a junior in aviation management, and Steven Pugia, a sophomore in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, collaborated to create Buzzle, an application which detects and differentiates between natural objects and those created by people.

Chia, Deng, and Pugia will share a cash prize and an expenses-paid trip this Thursday, April 2 to Seattle, Washington with co-winners from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They will tour the Boeing Everett Factory, the largest building in the world by volume and the facility where Boeing 747, 767, 777, and 787 Dreamliner aircraft are assembled. They will also attend an April 3 award ceremony at Boeing Field.

For the competition, the team was provided with a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) scan of 30 square miles of mountainous terrain which consisted of over five million data points, simulating data which would be obtained via satellite or other overhead vehicles. Their software had to parse the data and detect and identify specific 3D objects. “The software had to be user friendly and aesthetic, intuitive to use, and have a high percentage of reliability,” said Timothy Ropp, associate professor of aeronautical engineering technology, who will travel to Seattle with the team.

The Hangar of the Future team is assessing the application for use onboard Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). "By connecting to sensors in a UAV, we hope Buzzle could be used in industry for search and rescue efforts and aircraft inspections," Ropp said. The software could also potentially be used to locate parts and equipment across large aircraft hangars and airport ramp areas.

Boeing’s competition was open nationally to undergraduate and graduate university students enrolled in the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters.

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