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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | March 8, 2019

Aviation Summit: STEM event builds path for future engineers

By Staff Sgt. Cary Smith 11th Wing Public Affairs

Approximately 250 students from several local schools attended the 2nd Annual Aerospace/Aviation Summit on base, March 5, 2019, to learn how science and technology play a vital role in aviation.

The students got to explore a UH-1N Iroquois, learn about aerodynamics and plane design, experiment with flight simulators and aerospace equipment, and even participate in a drone-flying competition.

“These events are for students who normally may not have access to science and technology programs,” said Yvette Rose, Aero Club Foundation of Washington president. “If we can get just one student interested in aviation, see one spark of curiosity, then this is all worth the effort.”

While students spent the morning rotating among several different aviation related workshops, eight teams competed in a drone competition.

First, each team presented a research paper on an assigned drone they were given prior to attending the summit. Second, after a committee judged the presentations, the teams took turns navigating remote-controlled drones through an obstacle course.

VIDEO | 00:45 | 2nd Annual Aerospace/Aviation Summit

Winners for both research and flying portions were announced during lunch.

“We introduced this drone competition so students could see today’s cutting-edge technology through research and first-hand experience,” said Thurman Jones, Patriots Technology Training Center president. “There are so many career paths involved within the aerospace industry that we just want them to explore all the opportunities out there.”

One of the aviation workshops at the summit challenged students to design and construct paper airplanes with the ability to pass several tests. Students were encouraged to use critical-thinking skills to continuously improve on their airplane designs.

They first had to perform a crash test followed by a flight test to determine durability and aerodynamics.

“Their initial designs would not fly very far, but every group displayed excellent team-building and critical-thinking abilities to understand their design’s failures and make them better,” said Jordan Fetterman, Northrop Grumman systems engineer.

By holding events like these and interacting with youth, event organizers hope to inspire students to pursue engineering careers and aviation fields of study.

“Today was a huge success,” Yvette Rose said. “One of the high school students just told me she knows she now wants to be a pilot. That’s what this is about. We hope to build on this for next year and incorporate other STEM career fields because there are many more groups out there that want the same thing for our children.”

JBA has agreed to host this event for the next three years, providing a location for science and technology organizations to work together to encourage the future minds of aviation.