Noah Perlroth, 17, flies a remote-controlled helicopter through an obstacle course
July 25, 2014
By Karen Grava, Director of Media Relations
WEST HAVEN, CONN. – The challenge was straightforward enough for three groups of teenagers attending the University of New Haven’s summer engineering camp. But straightforward didn’t make it easy.
One group had to create plastic blades that would allow a toy helicopter to fly through a maze of hoops, even when fans were blowing it around.
Another group had to make plastic wheels for a tank-like vehicle that had to plow through a course consisting of Styrofoam, beads and sand to retrieve a flag located on a slick, smooth surface.
And a third group had to design wind-powered vehicles.
Karen Yang, 17 and Andrew Cappola, 17, test a wind-powered vehicle
The 25 teenagers at the two-week engineering camp run by the Tagliatela College of Engineering not only had to learn new software – the same software used at major companies such as Sikorsky Aircraft – but how to produce a product on 3-D printers.
Some of their first attempts didn’t work too well.
“They design something and it doesn’t necessarily go as expected,” said Maria-Isabel Carnasciali, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and director of the camp. “So, they have to change and adjust. This is what happens in the real world.”
Another aspect of real-world engineering was that students worked in teams with campers at Marymount School in New York and at the Kent School in Kent, Conn. They collaborated through computer-meeting software and competed on site with their peers.
“Students in the camp got a taste for the collaboration that real engineers experience every day,” said Carnasciali.
Developed at Georgia Tech, the camp was made possible by a grant from Sikorsky Aircraft that provided full scholarships to five campers and stipends to five high school teachers who participated in the camp.
Sikorsky also invited the students on a rare tour of the company’s assembly line.
“This camp was a win-win for us,” said Dulcy A. O’Rourke, manager of University Relations at Sikorsky. “Georgia Tech and UNH are focus schools for our engineering recruitment, and we are very interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) awareness. Having the teachers there gave the camp greater impact.”
Other sponsors of the program included Dassault Systèmes, which provided free CATIA design software licenses for the camp and additional licenses to the high school students so they can use the design software once they leave the camp. Stratasys and Advanced Educational Technologies loaned UNH a 3-D printer and provided plastic for the machine to make the helicopter blades, robot wheels and turbine blades.
The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 the university enrolls approximately 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates.