CCA students travel to Washington, D.C., to represent Pennsylvania in national STEM competition
Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA) hosted a special send-off event for six students who are preparing to represent Pennsylvania in the national Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) competition in Washington, D.C.
The send-off included an introduction to the team, winners of this year’s state competition, remarks from the chief operating officer of CCA, Thomas Longenecker, and a brief explanation of the students’ designs.
"CCA has always been involved in STEM education, and RWDC is an example that we've been a part of for the past nine years,” Longenecker said at the send-off event. "The team has worked really hard for this all year long without even sitting next to each other. They've done this virtually across the state, utilizing technology to build these projects, to hone their skills, to develop social relationships, just like a real-world business does."
Immediately after the send-off, CCA teachers, students and families got to wish the team members well as they boarded a bus to travel to Washington for the national competition. There, they competed against 28 teams representing different states and China, presenting their design to a panel of judges.
This year’s RWDC focuses on designing and implementing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to support precision agriculture in the production of corn, which addresses the issue of a projected need for 70 percent more food by 2050. The students designed a system that includes a surveying UAV to identify a crop’s infested area, a UAV to spray the infested area, and the supporting command, control and communication equipment and personnel to execute the mission.
"This competition has been so valuable in putting a challenge before students, at a level that they don't normally see with their coursework," team advisor Daniel Friess said. "It's giving students the opportunity to use a real-world application and say, 'what kinds of problems are out there, and what kinds of problems can we solve using technology and design and a little bit of problem solving?'"
CCA, a public cyber charter school, was one of 10 Pennsylvania schools that participated in the state competition to create a solution that supports a modern approach to agriculture. The students involved had the opportunity to explore advances in UAV technology and gain real-world experience with career paths that apply to the competition, such as design, engineering, communications and business.
This year’s CCA team included the following students from across Pennsylvania: