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Informational Only

This challenge is no longer accepting new submissions.

2019 Secretary's RAISE Award

Incentivizing students at high schools and universities to think creatively in developing innovative solutions to aviation and aerospace challenges.

Department of Transportation

Type of Challenge: Ideas; Scientific
Submission Start: 11/1/2019 12:00 AM ET
Submission End: 11/15/2019 12:00 PM ET


The Secretary of Transportation is announcing the sixth annual competition to recognize students with the ability to demonstrate unique and innovative thinking in aerospace science and engineering.  This competition includes a high school division and both a graduate and undergraduate university division.  The Department of Transportation (DOT) intends to use this competition to incentivize students at high schools and universities to think creatively in developing innovative solutions to aviation and aerospace challenges, and to share their innovations with the broader community. 

The Secretary’s RAISE Award competition will recognize innovative scientific and engineering achievements that will have a significant impact on the future of aerospace or aviation.   On behalf of the Secretary, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will accept student submissions and will invite subject-matter-experts to conduct an evaluation of all qualifying entries in December. 

Please carefully review the challenge announcement for complete competition details.


The selectee is expected to be announced in 2020.   A trophy with the student’s name and date of award will be displayed at the Department of Transportation and a display copy of the trophy will be sent to the student’s school/college/university.  Each student will receive a plaque.  At the option of the FAA Administrator, the FAA will pay for invitational travel expenses to Washington, DC for up to four representatives of the winning team(s) to attend an awards ceremony and for students who may also be invited to present their project(s) to FAA and DOT officials.



To be eligible to participate in the Secretary’s RAISE Award competition, students must be citizens of the United States or permanent residents.  For the high school division, the students must have been enrolled in at least one semester (or quarterly equivalent) at a U.S. high school (or equivalent approved home school program) in 2019.  For the university division, the student must have been enrolled in a U.S.-based college or university for at least one semester (or quarterly equivalent) during 2019.  Students may participate and be recognized as individuals or in teams.  Each member of a team must meet the eligibility criteria.  An individual may join more than one team.  There is no charge to enter the competition.

Please carefully review the challenge announcement for complete competition rules.

Judging Criteria

Panel members will judge entries against other submissions from the same division or category based on the following selection criteria.

Technical Merit:

  • Has the submission presented a clear understanding of the associated problems?
  • Has the submission developed a logical and workable solution and approach to solving the problem/s?
  • What are the most significant aspects of this concept?
  • Has the submission clearly described the breadth of impact of the innovation?

Additional Criteria:

  • Originality
    • Is this concept new or a variation of an existing idea, and in what way(s)?
    • How is this work unique?
    • Was the concept developed independently or in cooperation with others?
  • Impact
    • To what extent does this project have the potential to make a significant impact and/or contribution to the future of the aviation and aerospace environment?
  • Practicality
    • Who directly benefits from this work?
    • Can this program or activity be implemented in a practical fashion?
    • What are the costs anticipated to be incurred and saved by executing this concept?
  • Measurability
    • How has this individual/group measured the impact on the aviation environment?
    • To what extent does the innovation result in measurable improvements?
  • Applicability
    • Can this effort be scaled?
    • Is this work specific to one region, various regions, or to the entire nation?

 All factors are important and will be given consideration; however, the advisory panel will give the “technical merit” factor the most weight in the screening process.  The Secretary of Transportation retains sole discretion to select the winning entrant. 

Please carefully review the challenge announcement for complete competition details.

How To Enter

Expression of Interest:  Due by October 15

While not required, students are strongly encouraged to send brief expressions of interest to the FAA prior to submitting entries.  The expressions of interest should be received by noon eastern time on Tuesday, October 15.  Send the following to

  1. name of candidates;
  2. name of educational institutions with which candidates are affiliated;
  3. telephone and email addresses for nominating official and each candidate; and 
  4. a synopsis of the concept, limited to no more than two pages, providing a high-level overview of the proposed project and impact of the related research.


Complete submission packages shall consist of the following elements:

  1. Letter(s)
    1. Cover Letter – A formal nomination from a teacher, advisor, faculty member, or other as appropriate. Provide evidence of technical merit and following selection criteria based upon teacher (parent or legal guardian in the case of home schooled applicants), advisor, or faculty nomination and assessment of the submitted proposal, conducted research, written paper, results, and/or reports.
    2. Additional Supporting Letters – no limit.  
      1. Technical Merit of the Concept – and additional selection criteria
      2. Professionalism and Leadership - Evidence of the professionalism and leadership should be in the form of, but not limited to:
        1. Membership and offices held in various groups
        2. Presentations made to various groups, meetings, and at symposia
        3. Leadership in student professional activities
        4. Community outreach activities
  2. Summary Statement - An overall summary of the innovation, not to exceed one page, which includes a title of the project, a one paragraph synopsis, and a statement of the potential innovative impact the concept will have on the field of aviation or aerospace;
  3. Project Description – A full description of the project, not to exceed 10 pages.
  4. Transcript - A copy of each student’s academic transcript or certified grade report (as applicable);
  5. Additional Materials – no limit. Photographs and a copy of the paper(s) and related materials describing the innovative concept written by the student(s) being nominated may be included.

The FAA may request additional information, including supporting documentation, more detailed contact information, releases of liability, and statements of authenticity to guarantee the originality of the work.  Failure to respond in a timely manner may result in disqualification.   Electronic packages may be transmitted by email to   Hard copies should be forwarded with a cover letter to the attention of:

Patricia Watts, Ph.D., L-28
Challenge Management Office
FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center
Atlantic City International Airport, NJ 08405

The submission period begins on Friday, November 1, 2019.  Submissions must be received by noon on Friday, November 15, 2019.  The timeliness of submissions will be determined by the postmark (if sent in hard copy) or time stamp if emailed.  Competition administrators assume no responsibility for lost or untimely submissions for any reason.

Please carefully review the challenge announcement for complete competition details.