More than 150 middle and high school students and their faculty sponsors will converge at Rogers State University to put their drone flying skills to the test at RSU’s sixth annual AeroGames, powered by Google.
The popular science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competition will be held on Thursday, March 29 on the RSU Claremore campus.
“The AeroGames illustrates the bright future for Oklahoma’s STEM workforce. Forward-thinking companies like Google are investing in Oklahoma, so developing a skilled and dynamic workforce is more important now than ever,” Congressman Markwayne Mullin said. “When our students are exposed to hands-on learning experiences and are able to engage with one another through competition and unique challenges, it spurs creativity and exhibits how STEM can be both fun and an avenue for long-term success.”
Eighteen teams have taken on the AeroGames challenge to build a flight-worthy drone and fly it through a complex obstacle course designed specifically for the event. The course includes six components: Elevated Pass Thru; Vertical Slalom; Bullseye Landing and Vertical Takeoff; Three-Point 180-Degree Turn; Obstacle X-treme Wind Challenge; and a Top Cup Pyramid Finish. Googlers will score the competition using objective criteria such as time, speed, distance, and accuracy.
The obstacle course was designed by the RSU AeroCats Leadership Team, a group of senior students who are facilitating this year’s competition as part of their final capstone project.
The AeroGames will also feature a keynote presentation by Dennis Altendorf, director of Aerospace Development and Strategy at Tulsa Regional Chamber and Michael Tate, COO of Infinite Composites Technologies, an innovative pressure vessel design and production company in Tulsa.
Awards will be given to the first, second and third place finishers, best crash, most creative, and school spirit. One 2018 graduating senior student will also receive a $1,000 scholarship/tuition waiver from RSU.
In addition to the competition, the event will also feature Geek Street, an educational showcase of local businesses and industries on hand to demonstrate how they apply STEM principles in the workplace. Both the AeroGames and Geek Street are free and open to the public.
“The AeroGames gives students the opportunity to learn core STEM principles in a fun, competitive environment,” Andrew Silvestri, Google’s head of community affairs for Oklahoma, said. “We are always inspired by the creativity and spirit these students bring to the event. Our goal is to encourage and celebrate the students’ interest in STEM to develop the next generation of engineers and scientists.”
Since the opening of Google’s Oklahoma data center in 2011, it has awarded more than $2 million in grants related to STEM education in Oklahoma including funding laptop labs, robotics programs and STEM labs in all Mayes County schools.
“Oklahoma’s future depends on raising awareness and interest in STEM fields that are crucial for diversifying our state’s economic base,” said RSU President Dr. Larry Rice. “STEM proficiency is fast becoming a deciding factor for meaningful and financially rewarding careers in Oklahoma’s workforce. RSU’s partnership with Google for the AeroGames competition is a great way to demonstrate to middle high and high school students that STEM can be exciting and show them the pathways to these career fields.”
A welcome ceremony will be held in the Bushyhead Fieldhouse at 11:45 a.m. and will feature remarks from Congressman Markwayne Mullin followed by the keynote presentation. The public is invited to watch the competition throughout the day. The event is sponsored in part by the Unmanned Aerial Systems Cluster Initiative of Oklahoma and Kansas.
For more information about the event visit www.rsu.edu/aerogames.