CRANE, Ind. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division’s (NSWC Crane) Sea, Air and Land Challenge is scheduled for April 9 at Ivy Tech Community College’s main campus in Bloomington. The challenge is a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiative with a focus on engineering and robotics that fosters interest in DoD technologies by giving kids hands-on engineering experience and exposure to the Special Operations community.
The Sea, Air and Land Challenge was developed by Penn State’s Electro-Optics Center to establish a sustainable STEM program that introduces high school students to engineering processes and opportunities in the Navy and Department of Defense (DoD). The goal is to make the event a nationwide challenge, and Crane is the first location outside of Pennsylvania to conduct its own Sea, Air and Land Challenge.
Eleven teams with a total of 86 students from eight different Indiana schools will compete in the upcoming challenge.
NSWC Crane Director of Engagement Brian Blackwell explained that the program fosters interest in DoD technologies by giving kids hands-on engineering experience and exposure to the Special Operations community. “‘Sea, Air and Land’ is where the Navy SEALs get their name,” he added. “Special Operations Forces are in the media a lot right now and this program is exciting because students get to engage with retired personnel who are involved in the initiative. NSWC Crane is really well-positioned for this because we have a lot of former Special Forces folks who work here and a lot of technology folks around that are interested in helping, too. Our folks are already doing a lot of things in the school systems with robotics and this is just a way to do even more.”
The Sea, Air and Land Challenge, which is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, is similar to the SeaPerch initiative but involves greater challenges. Students will build air and land vehicles as well as those for the sea, and whereas in SeaPerch competitors build their vehicles using a kit, in the Sea, Air and Land Challenge they will not be required to use specific materials. “There’s more freedom in the design,” Blackwell said, “and unlike in SeaPerch, where they control their vehicle by line-of-site, the students will be behind a screen using video cameras and other sensors to navigate through the challenges.”
The competition develops skills in areas including design, troubleshooting, scheduling, budgeting, teamwork, project management, manufacturing and programming and controls. According to Blackwell, the program not only promotes excitement about technology opportunities that impact the DoD but also shows students they can serve their nation without being in uniform and serves to recruit future employees for the warfare center.
For more information on the Sea, Air and Land Challenge, please visit the following site: http://seaairland.psu.edu/.