Student Spotlight: Ryan Dittoe
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Ryan received his bachelor’s degree in City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University (OSU) in 2015 and went on to the graduate program of the same discipline the following year. He will graduate this May with a Master of Science.

Passionate about aviation, Ryan is able to incorporate this interest into his education by participating in various aviation research projects as well as practicing as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Center for Aviation Studies at OSU. Ryan is also a Planning and Engineering Co-op with the Columbus Regional Airport Authority. Outside school, he enjoys traveling, cars and music … especially the Dixie Chicks.

Here's more from the Q&A with our Student in the Spotlight, Ryan …

Which ACSP member school do you attend?
The Ohio State University, The Knowlton School

What specialty are you studying?
Airport Planning and Design

Why did you select your particular specialty?
Travel has always been an experience that I have tried to frequently incorporate into my life. Since I was tiny I loved looking at photos of big cities. The busyness and energy of cities themselves attracted me to the field of urban design. I view the distance to your next city as being only as far as the closest airport. Thinking of new ways to better serve passenger flow and automobile access are things in my mind when I am walking through a new airport.

Planning for the movement of aircraft is a large foundation of airport planning. My fascination with aviation is rooted in watching airplanes themselves. They operate with nearly unmatched force and leave the ground with unbelievable thrust. Developing such expansive pieces of real estate for their safe and efficient operation is a challenge in which I enjoy participating.

Airports progress modern culture and make the world smaller, and they show us all we are not that different from each other.

Do you have a current job or internship in your specialty?
I am a Planning and Engineering Co-op for the Columbus Regional Airport Authority in Columbus, Ohio.

Is there a particular class or professor that has made a great impact on you? How so?
I took a graduate course centered on the idea of “innovation.” As a class, we were tasked with creating our own definition of innovation and proposing projects that had never been done before. I created a project that offered a solution to airplane passengers with aviophobia. The course was taught by Kyle Ezell, Associate Professor of Practice of City and Regional Planning. Kyle has been one of the biggest supporters I have met at OSU. His strive to be creative is apparent in his work and translates well to his students. I have looked to him as a model of the type of passion I want to feel for my career and for helping those around me reach their potential as well. I feel like I am better for having this type of influence on me while I was learning at Ohio State, and I can say now if I do not feel passion for a project, I will not do it.

What's your favorite project you’ve worked on, in class or in practice?
I spent a summer reviewing aircraft accident and incident reports, typically written from the pilot’s perspective. After reading the narrative, the job was to correctly decipher the contributing factors to the event and locate where on the respective airport the event took place.

I do not have flying experience so I learned a great deal about flight procedures and safety regulations by reading these reports. I noticed a frequent occurrence of runway incursions, or the unauthorized entry to a runway by any vehicle or aircraft not intended to be there and began learning about airfield geometries and the hazards posed by certain elements of design.

This knowledge has enabled me to articulate in better detail items related to geometry alignments, airfield signage and marking standards. I use this information in greater contexts with respect to airport planning in my research projects and my time at the Columbus Regional Airport Authority as a Co-op in the Planning Division.

What future goals do you have in your field?
I hope to experience a broad spectrum of planning and engineering in an aviation context. Currently, I hope to find a position that allows me to travel to various client sites to give professional advice on development projects, both landside and airside (terminals and ground access to airfield operations). Speaking with respect to long-term goals, one day I might like to run my own consulting firm doing similar work.

How has planning school changed your daily habits?
The type of projects we do at the Knowlton School almost always feature demographics and sustainability sections. This practice has led me to really think about the bigger context relative to a project to understand the surrounding land uses, the people affected by the project and what it means for the bigger impact on our ecological system. Knowing a place through and through is imperative before beginning work on the site, so now ingrained within me is the habit of critically thinking about a site or a group of people with respect to how they interact with the space to which planners are making changes.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A musician, but I can't sing or play any instruments.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I would love to go to Iceland to see the Northern Lights. I don't think that needs an explanation! Additionally, I would love to spend more time in Brussels. I was there for two days and was enamored at the culture and the architecture.

What’s your favorite color and how would you creatively incorporate it into a planning project?
My favorite colors are black and white. Airport design typically has designated most colors with respect to way finding signage and airfield navigation. My colors may have to be left to branding or marketing pieces and especially in artistic expression in my design portfolio.


The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning promotes education, research, service and outreach in the United States and throughout the world by seeking to:

  • recognize diverse needs and interests in planning;
  • improve and enhance the accreditation process, and;
  • strengthen the role of planning education in colleges and universities through publications, conferences, and community engagement;
  • extend planning beyond the classroom into the world of practice.


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