High School Students Drive Their STEM Futures in Autonomous Vehicle Challenge

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Students put their skills to the test in this year's Autonomous Vehicle Competition. See them in action!

Their first car won’t be autonomous, but a group of today’s high school students are learning the technology behind the vehicles they probably will be driving in the future through participation in the Rose-Hulman Autonomous Vehicle Challenge.

The competition tested students’ abilities to work together to design, build and test miniature autonomous vehicles that use a microcontroller and sensors to race on oval- and clover-figure race tracks spread across the fieldhouse at the college’s Sports and Recreation Center.

The final challenge was a large track with a combination of twisting turns and straightaway sections. This track was unknown to the students before the competition.

“It’s a cool way to apply computer science and math,” says Aaron Lamoreaux, a junior from Richardson (Texas) High School’s championship team – for the second straight year.

Teammate and fellow classmate Siaam Sarker adds, “This places you in the environment of thinking like an engineer and working together to solve a complex problem. Also, it put you around some really cool people.”

“This competition offers computer programming at the freeform and is really a hands-on application to problem solving,” says William Fussell, a senior on the second-place Pope John Paul II High School team from Hendersonville, Tenn.

Interest in the competition is building because it isn’t your normal robotics challenge. A total of 26 students formed three teams during the first year (2016). Participation grew to 110 students from 11 school last year. Now, this year there were more than 200 students spread across 47 teams from 16 high schools in Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee and Texas.

“Students like getting to work on something that real engineers are doing today and maybe someday they could follow and make a career out of this,” states Marc Herniter, professor of electrical and computer engineering who developed the autonomous vehicle challenge. “People are starting to realize that electric vehicles are becoming today’s technology, and autonomous isn’t too far away from becoming a reality.”

The students used tools developed by computing software developer MathWorks and the international semiconductor firm NXP to implement engineering processes used by Ford Motor Company to design advanced technology vehicles. All three companies have co-sponsored the event since its beginning. These corporate sponsors and Rose-Hulman hope the competition attracts high school students to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

“It’s exciting to see the students so interested in solving problems by using their hands and minds,” says Jon Nibert, a Rose-Hulman alumnus who is an engineer with the Ford Motor Company.

This year’s competition results were:

Oval Track Races:

  1. Richardson High School One Two, Richardson, Texas
  2. Pope John Paul II High School Team B, Hendersonville, Tenn.
  3. Pope John Paul II High School Team C, Hendersonville, Tenn.

Clover Track Races:

  1. Richardson High School One Two, Richardson, Texas
  2. Pope John Paul II High School Team A, Hendersonville, Tenn.
  3. Terre Haute South Vigo High School, Terre Haute, Ind.

Mystery Track Races:

  1. Pope John Paul II High School Team C, Hendersonville, Tenn.
  2. Richardson High School One Two, Richardson, Texas
  3. Pope John Paul II High School Team A, Hendersonville, Tenn.

Overall Standings:

  1. Richardson High School One Two, Richardson, Texas
  2. Pope John Paul II High School Team C, Hendersonville, Tenn.
  3. Pope John Paul II High School Team A, Hendersonville, Tenn.

Other participating high schools this year came from:

Indiana
Attica Junior-Senior High School, Attica
Clay City Junior-Senior High School, Clay City
Northview High School, Brazil
Riverton Parke Junior-Senior High School, Montezuma
South Vermillion High School, Clinton
Sullivan High School, Sullivan
Terre Haute North Vigo High School, Terre Haute
Wabash River Career & Tech Education Center, Cayuga

Illinois
Lane Tech High School, Chicago

Tennessee
Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet School, Nashville

Texas
James Martin High School, Arlington
Lubbock High School, Lubbock
Marshall High School, Marshall

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