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Farmingdale Observer - Schools

Students Design Martian Lander

For the third consecutive year, students at Farmingdale High School willcompete in the Northrop Grumman High School Innovation Challenge, this April, in the hopes of taking the first place prize a third time. 

 

“I definitely think we have a chance” said Peter Callahan, a sophomore. 

 

Each year, Northrop Grumman organizes the annual competition to increase awareness of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers, and encourage students to seek careers within STEM fields. Teams of up to ten high school students are then asked to come up with an engineering solution to a problem provided by Northrop Grumman. Grumman’s vision for the competition is to “foster the next generation of engineers and scientists by giving them exposure to the world of science, technology, engineering and math and the tools for them to learn and grow.”

 

This year’s topic, entitled Mars Race, had to do with renewable resources; essentially asking students to create a robot capable of operating with as many resources as are available on Mars.

 

In previous years, competition themes included building RC airplanes, launcher systems, airships and deployables.

 

“[The students’]simplified designs really help us engineers get back to the basics,” said Grumman mentor Justin Lee.

 

Besides building a functioning and efficient robot, teams must also do research for the challenge by writing a few paragraphs on the importance of the challenge and how it can be applied to real life. They must also be able to plan and implement a budget with the funding provided by Grumman. Teams are graded on a number of basic components, including: the overall design process, design, presentation organization, and work division/team effort. 

 

“I think it’s a really good competition for the students” said Farmingdale teacher Robert Clark. “It introduces them to careers in engineering and teaches them about the actual engineering process.”

 

Farmingdale’s team is eight members strong, and consists of: Team Leader Katherine Vera, Programmer Arpit Manaktala, Schedule Manager Scott Hilbrandt, Financial Manager Steven Hamlin, Strategist Mitchell Grossman, Researcher Anthony Cardillo, CAD Expert Peter Callahan, and Builder Summer Baranello. The students will also receive assistance from Farmingdale teachers Robert Clark and Lynne Brewer, as well as, Justin Lee and Charles Connors, mentors provided by Northrop Grumman. 

 

For Vera, a senior at Farmingdale High School, the challenge is “something you just got to keep coming back to.”