Triangle Impact Challenge Winners Announced

Some of the Research Triangle’s most innovative minds were named winners of the Triangle Impact Challenge 2021: FlyRDU on Wednesday. During the challenge, Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) worked with Duke University, North Carolina Central University, N.C. State University, UNC-Chapel Hill and RTI International to improve the air travel experience by finding more ways to keep passengers safe and healthy during the parking, ticketing, screening, waiting, shopping, dining and boarding processes.

RDU is already helping passengers fly with confidence by increasing its cleaning and disinfecting practices, requiring that masks be worn in the airport, encouraging social distancing and using touchless technology. The consortium of local universities and research institutes tapped into the talents of students, faculty and employees to identify additional ways to make air travel safe and welcoming.

The FlyRDU Challenge kicked off in September and finalists pitched their projects in January. Ninety participants submitted 16 idea that were narrowed down to five finalists. The winners are:

1st place: “Deactivate Airborne Pathogens” from Duke University, N.C. State University, Stitch Partners and Johnson Controls. The team demonstrated the rapid effectiveness of aerosolized particle removal using a plasma textile filter that was created at the N.C. State Wilson College of Textiles. The technology is under consideration for a patent and possible future product development.

2nd place: “OM Takes Flight” from Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill.  The team focused on the design of sanitation schedules that help prevent the transmission of the virus by developing an efficient use of existing resources and by introducing signage and other visual indications that help guide passengers through the airport. A primary objective of the project was to limit the congregation of passengers in queues and other bottlenecks in passenger flows.

3rd place: “ThermaTrack” submitted by Thexa Technologies and Duke University. The team developed an imaging technology that can assist cleaning crews in identifying touchpoints sooner and more completely than standard procedure allows for. The system was developed and tested in a clinical setting at Duke University Hospital and is currently under further testing and development for classroom and other shared spaces across the university.

A total of $120,000 will be awarded to the three winners to help fund project development.