Students from five high schools throughout the Antelope Valley participated in Northrop Grummans High School Innovation Challenge at Pete Knight High School April 5, to develop the next gas-free vehicle.
Participating high schools were Pete Knight, Tehachapi, Palmdale, The Palmdale Aerospace Academy and Antelope Valley.
The challenge is designed to stimulate student interest in pursuing careers in scientific or engineering fields. The goal of this year’s competition was to design and build a renewable-energy-powered model vehicle, either wind or solar powered, that could carry a payload as efficiently as possible over a set distance.
The competition is held annually as part of the company’s celebration of National Engineers Week.
Students are required to develop, document and demonstrate an engineering concept and present their ideas. They also must manage a schedule, budget and prove that their concept meets the customer’s requirements.
The program relates to what Northrop Grumman is doing now or what they want to do in the near future, said Brooks McKinney, senior manager of public relations at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. These young people are not encumbered by experience; they dont know why they should do, or not do something, so they try simple, new concepts. We think we are teaching them but actually, they are teaching us.
Over the course of the 12-week competition, teams were graded on their ability to develop and document their vehicle’s design in a written report, present the concept orally to a panel of engineers, and prove the vehicle’s performance on the test track.
Christina Telles said that her son, Christopher, who is in tenth grade and attends The Palmdale Aerospace Academy, comes home every day excited about his project.
He is sounding like a real engineer and is so excited about what he and his team mates are building. She pulled her son out of public school a few years ago because he was struggling in math. After home schooling and attending the academy, Christopher is now 98 percent in math. He used to be quite shy but this experience has really opened him up.
Awards to the top three teams include trophies and $1,250, $750 and $500 for their schools math and science departments. This years winners were The Palmdale Aerospace Academy in first place, AV High School in second, with third place going to Tehachapi. AV High School also won the Spirit Award.
We are thrilled about the success of these young people. They have worked long, hard hours and they produced excellence, said Matthew Winheim, assistant headmaster of The Palmdale Aerospace Academy. They learned how to work as a team to solve a real-world challenge. I am very proud of them.
Winheim said he is thankful to those at Northrop Grumman who made the challenge competition possible and to the teachers for putting in the long hours for supporting their efforts. These young people are learning how to do what the Aerospace Valley does best – design, create, and explore.