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ELEV-8 kit built at U of
   ELEV-8 kit built at U of MN
Bill Garrard with ELEV-8
Prof. Bill Garrard with ELEV-8  

2014-2015 MN Space Grant Community College Quadcopter Competition

The Minnesota Space Grant Consortium, based in the Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics (AEM) department (Director, Professor William Garrard, and Associate Director, James Flaten) has received a two year grant from NASA to support a community college based program to improve STEM recruitment and retention. This program is designed to (1) increase the number of community college students who graduate with STEM degrees and/or transfer to STEM programs at four year institutions, (2) increase the ability of community college faculty members to deliver aerospace-related content in areas of interest to NASA, and (3) enhance the diversity of students pursing STEM education at Minnesota community colleges. These objectives will be accomplished by the use of small model helicopters (quadrotors) in competitions between student design groups at five Minnesota community colleges. These design groups will be led by faculty advisors at the various community colleges.

Each year seven student teams of five students will participate, each advised by a community college faculty member. Thus over the two-year period of the program, fourteen teams (a total of seventy students) and seven or more community college faculty advisers will participate. The community colleges participating in the program are in different locations in Minnesota, in order to provide geographic diversity. Community college partners include Central Lakes College in Brainerd (North Central MN), Century College in White Bear Lake (Minneapolis/St Paul Metro Area), Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College which is a MnSGC affiliate located in Cloquet (North East MN), Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Worthington (South Western MN), and Itasca Community College in Itasca (North Central MN). The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities will serve as lead institution.

Quadrotors will be used for the competition because quadrotor kits are readily available. Experience has shown that compared to fixed-wing radio-controlled airplanes, students can quickly learn to pilot quadrotors, and quadrotors can be operated in small spaces (including indoors) with no infrastructure (which is not the case with fixed-wing radio controlled airplanes). Each student team will start by building and learning to fly a basic quadrotor from a commercially-available kit (each team will use the same brand of kit for uniformity). Students will significantly modify their kits in order to mount sensors, actuators, and electronics necessary for the competition challenges. This will also involve some mechanical design and fabrication, giving the students experience with computer-aided design (CAD) software and 3-D printing. In addition, the students will have to learn microcontroller programming and integration of electronics, sensors, actuators, and data-logging to ensure that they function properly.

U of MN / MnSGC Contacts Quadcopter Competition
William Garrard, Director of the MN Space Grant Consortium                                
James Flaten, Assoc. Dir. of the MN Space Grant Consortium                                
Stephanie Wegner,
U of MN student assistant                                                        
Alex Pratt, U of MN student assistant                                                                   

Faculty Advisers and Participating Institutions
Nate Peterson, Central Lakes College, Brainerd                                                     
Tim Grebner, Century College (Team A), White Bear Lake                                     
Jeff Able, Century College (Team B), White Bear Lake                                          
Steve Highland, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (Team A), Cloquet       
Elizabeth Jones, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (Team B), Cloquet       
Mason Hanson, Itasca Community College, Grand Rapids                                       
Paul Seifert, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington

Document archive for 2014-2015 "Year 1" Quadcopter Competition
Proposal, including subcontracts
Soldering vocabulary
Learn to Solder comic
Learn to Solder flasher circuit
LiPo battery charging
Video links for ELEV-8
ELEV-8v2 assembly guide
RC_Eye_One user manual
Required and Recommended parts list ("version 2" - posted 9/25/2014)
MN Space Grant "Student Information Form" (required of all student participants)
NASA Media Release Form (i.e. photo release form) (required of all student and faculty participants)

Kick-off documents (shown at Century College on Oct. 13, 2014)
Kick-off agenda
Kick-off slides (listing participating institutions, goals, timeline, etc.)
Year 1 Competition Goals
Arduino training slides (longer slide set available upon request)
Arduino Servo sketch (open with Arduino IDE)
Arduino Temp_Mag_Log sketch (open with Arduino IDE)

Additional Documents
Photos of a Sample Exploration Area
A "Preliminary Map" of that sample exploration area
Template for the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) (due Dec. 23, 2014)
Template for the Critical Design Review (CDR) (due March 31, 2015)
Notes about giving oral presentations as a team
Sketch of how the competition area (a gym) will be laid out (approximately)
Link to YouTube videos made by quadcopter teams
Photos (taken by Jeff Abel) of teams at Oral Presentations
Photos (taken by James Flaten) of teams on TCF Bank Stadium field
Template for the Post-Competition Review (PCR) (due April 30, 2015)

Update about "Year 1" delivered by J. Flaten at Space Grant National Directors Meeting in Tucson, AZ, on Oct. 1, 2015