STEAM Engineering Project
STEAM Engineering Project

Chief Information Officer Jon Ostendorf taught an engineering course to Upper School students this year as part of the new STEAM curriculum and shared the results of his class's final project, a complicated and multi-faceted systems engineering project culminating in a launch onto Smoyer Field.

In Mr. Ostendorf's course--a similar one was taught by STEAM Coordinator Jonathan Tatkon-Coker--students worked on designing and building systems to take aerial photographs of a target when dropped from 50 feet. Designed to simulate the real-world challenge of air-dropping supplies to stranded parties, this engineering project "involved designing and building a structure and descent method, and creating the circuitry and code to operate it," according to Mr. Ostendorf.

Three student teams each created a system, which involved building circuits and writing code to sense altitude and ground proximity; learning to work the camera; brainstorming and sketching concepts for the systems; and building the systems and incorporating the circuitry and code into them.

The finale, of course, was the launch. Earlier this week, with the threat of rain looming, the teams dropped their aerial imaging systems from balloons about 50 feet up onto Smoyer Field. The goal was to drop the systems on a designated target--for this exercise, a towel placed in the middle of the field. With so many unpredictable elements such as wind, moisture, and even the line catching on something unforeseen, hitting the target took an incredible level of finesse.

Mr. Ostendorf noted, "This project is an authentic systems engineering project that integrates components of aeronautical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, remote sensing and project management." Here are photos documenting the project.