MN Space Grant Consoritum Hosts Community College Quadcopter Challenge
On Friday evening, April 15, and Saturday, April 16, NASA’s MN Space Grant Consortium (MnSGC), which is led from the AEM Department, hosted the 2015-2016 MnSGC Community College Quadcopter Challenge. Eight student teams from five community colleges participated. Each team built an ELEV-8 quadcopter (AKA a “drone” flying platform) from a kit, then creatively outfitted it to address a list of challenge goals. These included adding rotor protection, using 3D printing to create a flexible camera mount, devising a mechanism for collecting granular and fluid samples, and building an Arduino-logged sensor suite for environmental characterization.
During the challenge fly-off itself, held in the Armory gymnasium, teams were required to take in-flight close-up images of specific targets (including a rock with small embedded fossils) on both horizontal and vertical surfaces. Teams also used their quadcopters to photograph and physically characterize an “exploration course” which included samples of water, sand, and gravel to collect, irregular-shaped objects to map (like half-opened folding tables), and environmental anomalies (such as hidden magnets and heat packs). Teams also delivered oral presentations to a panel of judges, to complement the written reports and promotional videos they made in advance of the challenge event.
The schools that participated were Central Lakes College (Staples/Brainerd), Century College (White Bear Lake), Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (Cloquet), Itasca Community College (Grand Rapids), and MN West Community and Technical College (Worthington campus). The challenge was overseen by James Flaten, Associate Director of the MnSGC and AEM contract associate professor, assisted by U of MN undergraduate TAs CJ Koshoil and Noah Germolus.
More information about the MnSGC Community College Quadctoper Challenge, including links to team videos and photos from the fly-off, can be found here.
Photos by Jacqueline Sotraidis