Date of activity: May 27, 2015
Team Birdport of the University of Tokyo became the first-ever team from a Japanese university to make it into the top five in the Fly Your Ideas contest. This contest, a biennial competition which just completed its fourth iteration, is sponsored by Airbus with cooperation from UNESCO and solicits ideas from students worldwide on how to improve and make innovations in the aviation industry. The five-member team consisted of Satoshi Miyatani (second-year Master’s student, Department of Astronautics and Aeronautics, Graduate School of Engineering); Tomoya Nakamura, Tomo Uenishi and Sukrit Vinayavekhin (fourth-year students, Department of Systems Innovation, Faculty of Engineering); and Motoki Kimura (second-year Master’s student, Department of Socio-cultural Environmental Studies, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences).
The purpose of this contest is to encourage young people to cultivate an interest in the aviation industry and provide them with an opportunity to produce fresh ideas for sustainable air transport while working together with a diverse range of fellow students from various national and ethnic backgrounds. The selection process is divided into three rounds. Participating in the first round were 518 teams from 104 countries, with 100 of these teams moving on to the second round at the end of November 2014 after a screening of their proposal documents. During the second round, which lasted from January through March 2015, each team created a two-minute video and a 5000-word English report, which, along with their active use of social media to report on their team’s progress, were the subjects of the judges’ evaluation for selecting the five teams to head to the third and final round in April 2015.
Aircraft-bird collisions, also known as bird strikes, have increased in recent years due to changes in ecosystems arising from advanced urban development and climate change. Team Birdport’s idea was to create artificial bird habitats called “birdports” for birds to live in as alternatives to living on the grounds of airports, thereby improving safety for aircraft and protecting the birds. The team proposed using unmanned aerial vehicles to automatically guide the birds to these new habitats.
This contest promotes in-team diversity as a vital factor in producing innovative ideas, and Team Birdport was certainly diverse. Team Birdport’s members came from differing areas of specialization, school years, and nationalities, allowing each of them to bring a variety of ideas and problem solving strategies to the table. Moreover, by proactively interacting with professionals and experts in fields related to their proposal, the team was able to formulate an idea that earned a high evaluation from the judges.
Upon being selected as one of the final five teams, Team Birdport, along with their Academic Mentor, Project Assistant Professor Hiroko Nakamura (Center for Aviation Innovation Research), and the two employees from Airbus assigned to the team from the second round, Airbus Mentor Danny Antons (Airbus A350 Production Quality Manager) and Airbus Expert Lee Dann (Airbus Aircraft Operations, Architecture & Integration) were invited to Hamburg, Germany to participate in the final round held on May 27, 2015.
After the final selection by the judging panel, the winning and runner-up teams were announced. The winning team was Team Multifun representing the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and the runner-up team was Team Retrolley, from Brazil’s University of São Paulo.
For more information on the contest, please visit the Fly Your Ideas website www.airbus-fyi.com (English only) and Team Birdport’s website https://www.airbus-fyi.com/teams/2164/birdport.
In Depth: UTokyo Students’ "Birdport" Idea Takes Them to New Heights in Aviation Industry Contest