Guest Blog by Karin Wadsack, Project Director, Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University’s Dynamic and Active Systems Lab (DASL) in the department of mechanical engineering partnered with the NAU Upward Bound summer program to engage high school students in university research on energy harvesting and the development of drone technology. Twenty-one high school soon-to-be juniors, from across Northern Arizona, tested solar panels, built electrical circuits, and participated in a “wildlife-tracking hide-and-seek” exercise using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The students spent five weeks on campus at NAU learning about climate change and energy science and engineering. They performed hands-on activities and experiments, and went on a ‘field trip’ to the Engineering building to perform outdoor activities with the UAVs.
“These experiences were invaluable for our UB students,” said Jacob Lesandrini, an instructional specialist with the Upward Bound Program. “They were pushed to understand the science behind energy, energy consumption, and the future of energy use in the country.”
DASL faculty advisor Dr. Michael Shafer and students Gregory Hahn, Heather Cantin, Lauren Adoram-Kershner, Kellan Rothfus, and Matthew Robertson worked with the high school students over the course of several lessons and activities.
DASL is currently engaged in two National Science Foundation grants: one to develop and test energy harvesting technologies for use on marine mammals tracking tags, and one to develop and deploy an open-source design for unmanned aerial vehicles to be used in tracking wildlife transmitter signals for ecological research.