LEWISBURG — Tri-County North’s Full Throttle teams were presented two awards from the Air Force during the school’s end-of-year assembly on Thursday, May 25.
The students won the awards for their remote controlled cars’ performance and were honored in front of the entire school.
On May 9, Middle School and High School students from Tri-County North’s Full Throttle Teams presented their STEM projects and raced their RC cars at Eldora. The winning rover was designed, built, and programmed by three middle school students. They built their rover using technology from Lego called Lego Mindstorms NXT.
“It was a prestigious honor to win the award and the Air Force wanted to come out and present it in front of the school,” elementary Full Throttle Coach Laini Ferriell said. “It was also a way to promote the program and get kids interested and thinking about STEM careers, especially in the military.”
This is actually the entire point of the Full Throttle program. Full Throttle is an initiative sponsored by the Air Force and the Gaming Research Integration Learning Lab (GRILL) to get students interested in careers in the STEM field through racing and robotics. According to officials, GRILL takes off-the-shelf technology and modifies it to use in training the U.S. military, specifically the Air Force.
For example, GRILL uses various game engine software to create realistic virtual simulations to train pilots or medics.
In order to get students interested in this career field, they created the Full Throttle Program. As their website explains, the “content immerses and engages students in the mathematics and physics behind racing through the use of RC cars and racing game engines.” The content is meant to reflect the engineering challenges that Air Force engineers currently face.
Specifically, the content mimics the LVC technology development efforts under way to advance the state-of-the-art training capabilities for the Air Force. Students participating the the program’s activities utilize some of the same software tools relied upon by Department of Defense (DOD) scientists and engineers.
For the Tri-County North program, students selected different challenge problems to begin developing potential solutions for.
“Several students wished to learn more about 3D computer modeling software, so they used SketchUp to create virtual models of their solutions for what to do with abundant shipping containers,” Ferriell explained. “One group redesigned the shipping containers into tiny houses and another turned them into an underwater research laboratory. Some students created virtual models of various buildings in the area such as our school and UD Arena.
“Our superintendent was very impressed with the virtual model of our school and is excited about the possibility of sharing this with our first responders so that they can use it to train and plan evacuations. One group used Unreal Game Engine to design a racing game modeled after Eldora. Two groups designed and built autonomous rovers to race at Eldora against other schools and the engineers at the GRILL.”
She added, the rovers each had four minutes to navigate through the track without humans interacting with them and the car that went the farthest on the track won.
During the awards assembly, the award was presented to the Tri-County North students by Second Lieutenant Mitchell Lichtenwald USAF.
The Tri-County North Full Throttle coaches dedicated much of their time to provide the students with the opportunity to participate in the program. Coaches included: high school coach Tim Lewis, middle school and elementary coaches Ferriell, Lisa Galpin, and Stacy Williams.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH