Erie High Students Win Governor’s Real World Design Challenge

Erie High School’s Academy of Engineering and Aerospace students are once again winning awards for their capstone work. This year’s group of seven students has won the Governor’s Cup, the state level of the Real World Design Challenge, and have been invited to Washington, DC to compete in the national finals. The Real World Design Challenge is a non profit organization overseen by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Each student on the winning national team will receive a $50,000 scholarship from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The students were tasked to design an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) that is able to measure plant health in an urban environment. Erie High’s design team, the Skygers, were given a hypothetical city’s map layout and were presented with five different types of vegetation they had to monitor including rooftop gardens and plants on median barriers. The Skygers merged engineering concepts with practical business strategies. Not only did they develop their own theory of operation and design for their unique drone using computer-aided design software (CAD), but they had to create a business plan utilizing a $200,000 budget as well as map out a sustainable path to creating profit.

Kelsey Rasmussen of EHS and Jake Marshall of the Innovation Center have been coaching the Skygers. Rasmussen teaches the Computer Science pathway in the Academy of Engineering and Aerospace, and her colleague Lindsay Fox teaches the Aerospace pathway. Students of computer science and aerospace join together in the capstone engineering class and use skills from both pathways.  

Rasmussen shares a capstone highlight has been to “see the students thrive in a realistic work environment that has many right answers.” She continues, “The students had to analyze the tradeoff for making one decision over another and justify why they proceeded with a certain pathway. The project required students to master self management and project management in order to divide and complete the various tasks of the project.” 

Sophomore student, Andrew Jordan, was invited to join the Skygers because of his strong interest in the project. Jordan shares, “It is awesome to be able to meet with students with similar interests who are willing to work hard on projects that are fun and engaging. The engineering program has prepared me for a future job in engineering by giving me so much experience of a real engineering design job.”  

The Skygers plan to compete in the national competition on April 13 and have fundraised nearly $1,000 to attend. They are still in the fundraising phase and have connected with the CEO of UAS Colorado, Constantin Diehl, to gain support from the local aerospace community for additional funds. UAS Colorado is a non-profit business league with the mission to promote and improve the aerospace industry in Colorado. The Skygers will attend the Rocky Mountain UAS Professionals Meetup Group on March 20 to present their project to the group. Good luck, Skygers!