Summer Manufacturing Camps Close with Hover Games

August 31, 2015

As Hampton Road’s middle and high school students prepare to return to their schools this fall, a group of twenty will have much to brag about as a result of their summer with Thomas Nelson’s Summer Manufacturing Camps.

Thomas Nelson concluded the third and final camp, Hover Games, on August 15, at a rodeo style competition that highlighted the work of four teams that had the opportunity to build, program, and fly “quadcopters” throughout the week.

Students formed teams early and learned about the technology of drones, especially the quadcopter. David North, Aerospace Engineer at NASA Langley Research Center volunteered throughout the week to introduce flying terms, and the basics of the aircraft to campers. North also worked directly with each team for flying demonstrations and instructions.

In addition to knowing how to fly the quadcopters students had to understand design, building, and modeling and simulation. On the first day, students met with Marco Estrada, platform concept of operations/modeling and simulation of Newport News Shipbuilding, to discuss the various career pathways involved with modeling and simulation.

“We discussed how modeling and simulation is used to plan everyday things, like lines at grocery stores and McDonalds, but especially how it is used in manufacturing, stated Estrada. “The students understood the terms and concepts right away, which is why at this age I think exposure to the applications of science and engineering can guide them in various different directions than ways they have already thought about like how can video games be used to solve a problem for a group of people. It gets them thinking early and gets them exposed to the industry.”

Campers also had the opportunity to visit the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Ground Support Facility at Langley Air Force Base. While there, campers learned about the acquisition and storage of intelligence data, and methods used to acquire that data, which included drones.

By the fourth day of the camp every team had created a quadcopter that could fly. Campers learned to be very sensitive with the controls. The quadcopters could go in eight different directions, controlled by two control arms or joysticks. The controls only needed a light and measured touch, skills that had to be learned quickly by team pilots.

By the final day, teams were ready for the competition, which was judged, based on the design of the quadcopter, displayed teamwork, a team presentation and the actual rodeo completion.

The rodeo was split into three different sections; accuracy, First Person View (FPV), and the obstacle course. The accuracy section required teams to accurately take off and land alternately between two squares five feet a part. FPV section called for two team members to work together as the pilot and as an observer. Four words were housed behind a barrier. The team pilot flew behind the obstacle, under the guidance of the observer who used a FatShark FPV system of camera and goggles to read each of the words. A tiny camera was mounted on each aircraft to facilitate this portion. Finally, the obstacle course called for the quadcopter to fly high and low without touching specific objects in its path.

In the end, the team’s scores were not separated by many points, emphasizing the hard work each group put into their quadcopter, for the judges the winning team was the platinum team.

Members of team platinum were awarded a $100 gift certificate and bragging rights that should carry them into the new school year.

Hover Games was added to this year’s summer manufacturing camps after the successful five-year run of Peninsula K-Next and three-year run of Imagineering!

Like every camp, every year the support of volunteers from Newport News Shipbuilding and NASA Langley Research Center made this year’s summer manufacturing camps a huge success. In addition the camp was fortunate to receive sponsorship from Liebherr Mining, Langley AFB, Bosch Global Services, Canon Virginia, the Peninsula Community Foundation, New Horizons Regional Education Centers, Freedom Life Church in Hampton, Newport News Public Schools, Nancy Holloway and Milton Skolaut from NASA, and Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs.