As part of an educational partnership agreement between Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) and public schools in southern Maryland, high school students have spent the past few months building and programming quadcopter unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
According to NAWCAD, the 2015 STEM4UAS (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) high school competition is the first UAS robotics competition in the tri-county area. Using the quadcopters, each team of six to 10 students must build, program and fly a comprehensive mock rescue mission.
“STEM4UAS has given 12 different teams throughout the southern Maryland tri-county area the opportunity to build an unmanned system, fly the system and program the system to operate in autonomous mode,” says Stephanie Browning, an anti-tamper engineer at the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and lead for the STEM4UAS program. “Additionally, the students will experience what an actual [Department of Defense] systems engineering event is like by having to provide a brief for a flight readiness review.”
The UAS robotics curriculum and rescue mission scenario was a collective effort between Allen Skinner, a STEM 10 physics and engineering science teacher at Great Mills High School; the NAWCAD educational outreach office; volunteer engineers from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station; Fly-Robotics.com; and Patuxent Aeromodelers, who are local members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics community at Greenwell State Park in Maryland.
“The hope is to continue to develop the UAS educational program into something polished and worthy of going national,” says Terri Chase, a coordinator in the NAWCAD educational outreach office.