Undergraduate Research in Aviation Business Administration

Presenting my project during the 2019 ERAU Open House

My name is Kelvin Maurice Russell and I am a Senior majoring in Aviation Business Administration with an Area of Concentration in Airport Management. I recently completed my economics research paper titled How Does Federal Funding For U.S. Airports Affect Airport Growth? I was fortunate enough to have this paper funded by Embry-Riddle’s (ERAU) Undergraduate Research Institute and the School of Business. Dr. Jules Yimga, my economics professor and faculty mentor, provided me great guidance and support while researching and writing this paper. It is my hope that this research will be published in a transport journal which may influence policy makers and airport professionals on the importance funding means for airport growth.

I was a student in Dr. Yimga’s EC 315 – Managerial Economics course in the Spring 2019 semester when I begin discussing with him my desire to make a difference in the aviation industry by conducting a research project. I knew that he was well versed in the topic since he recently has 11 published paper in transport journals. Also, as a student I knew how important it was to have conducted research during my undergraduate degree and I wanted to have something to show for it on my resume. Beginning in the fall 2019 semester and I took EC 330 – Air Transport Economics with Dr. Yimga and this class required a final research paper. This experience was a great opportunity for me to delve into the literature on this topic and research extensively.  Taking time to analyze the information was hard but exciting and I learned so much.

It was initially a challenging time finding a distinct and specific topic in the broad field of aviation. In the beginning, however, I set clear intentions for what I wanted my paper to produce:

  • Make an impact to the overall U.S. transportation industry
  • Focus on either U.S. airlines or airports
  • Allow my paper to be a reference to policy makers within the aviation sector

Through the help of Dr. Yimga, we eventually came up with the topic of airports in the United States and how federal funding affects airport growth. I was instantly excited because the topic was not only specific enough for the course requirements, it was a topic that did not have much analysis in terms of how funding affects airport growth, and it was a topic I knew could make a difference considering funding being a key discussion driver among many industries.

My URI Open House Poster

The result of my paper consists of multiple regression analysis performed on the amount of funding the top 30 U.S. airports received and how it affected overall airport growth in terms of passenger traffic, runway work, departing flights, and more. As a curious individual I learned a great deal about Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants, which is the main source of federal funding for U.S. airports. As a student I was able to enhance my Excel skills through performing regressions and interpreting their meanings. This of course was not without the help of my great faculty mentor, Dr. Yimga.

I would like to thank all those who assisted me in my research and analysis during this project. This includes the Undergraduate Research Institute Committee and the School of Business. Again, special thanks to my economics professor and mentor, Dr. Yimga. Through his guidance and support in this and other projects I have learned and grown a great deal.  

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