Embry-Riddle Computer and Project Management Students Build App for Pilots

A team of Embry-Riddle students developed an app for pilots in Arizona to check into any of the 60-plus airports in the state
A team of Embry-Riddle students developed an app for pilots in Arizona to check into any of the 60-plus airports in the state in an effort to increase visibility of smaller aviation sites. (Photo: Embry-Riddle/Connor McShane)

Beginning in May, pilots in Arizona can use an app newly developed by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University students for the Arizona Pilots Association to keep track of pilots' visits to airports and aviation sites around the state. The app is part of a program meant to introduce pilots to less-visited aviation sites and increase their comfort level in visiting unfamiliar airports.

“I always look for opportunities for students to apply their learning,” said Reg P. Parker, assistant professor in the Department of Global Security and Intelligence Studies. “The important thing here is that we are actually producing a product for a customer, as opposed to conducting a classroom exercise.”

In order to increase visibility for airports in a state and give pilots a reason to visit smaller airports, a number of states have established “passport” programs where pilots record the airports they visit and receive prizes when they reach certain numbers of different destinations, said Heather Marriott, assistant professor in the Department of Computer, Electrical and Software Engineering.

Parker and a former business associate who is a member of the Arizona Pilots Association proposed that a mobile app be developed by Embry-Riddle for such a program in Arizona. Other states’ programs depend on paper booklets and stamps. 

The app was designed in a collaboration with Embry-Riddle students majoring in Simulation Science, Games and AnimationSoftware EngineeringCyber Intelligence and Security; and Global Security and Intelligence. Funding for the project was provided by Embry-Riddle’s Undergraduate Research Institute.

“What makes this project really unique is the cross-department cooperation,” said Marriott. “Professor Parker is working with three project management students while I work with five students from three different departments.”

Parker said such collaboration across fields provides great experience for students heading into their careers.

“My career at GE and Motorola was in technical engineering program management, and in industry, there are always cross-functional dependencies,” he said.

Danielle Jamieson, a senior in Global Security and Intelligence, said the project introduced her to a lot about “real world” project management.

“It is one thing to learn the principles, and it is another to utilize them on a real project for a customer,” Jamieson said.

Paige Cody, a junior earning a bachelor’s degree in Simulation Science, Games and Animation, said she had never built an app before participating in the project, having concentrated more on working with computer games.

“I was able to expand my knowledge of tools and producing for a phone application,” Cody said. “I have also learned a great deal about taking a project from start to finish and communicating with the customer to create a product everyone can be proud of.”

The Embry-Riddle-developed app is scheduled for release on May 1. It will allow pilots to collect virtual passport stamps at any of the more than 60 airports in Arizona. 

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