The annual Aerospace Engineering STEP summer camp gave area teens a peek of the life of an engineer

For nine Georgia teenagers, the COVID-19 shutdown put some hurdles in the way of their participation in

Dr. Kelly Griendling
STEP Mentor
STEP Mentor, Dr. Evan Harrison
Dr. Evan Harrison
STEP Mentor

Georgia Tech's Science Technology & Engineering Pipeline (STEP) Summer Camp.  No visits to the Student Center after class. No Frisbee on the Tech Green. Definitely no chance they were going to get into the Harper Wind Tunnel...

But it didn't stop these next-gen engineers from nailing their assignment: build a remote-controlled Mars Rover. (And have some fun.)

Sponsored by the Aerospace Systems Design Lab and the Georgia Space Grant Consortium, the 12-day camp featured video and live-streamed instruction, culminating in a video final in which each of the campers presented their work and answered questions about their Rover.

"Before the camp started, we sent them all a video that went over the process, to inspire them, really," said Aerospace Engineering lecturer Dr. Kelly Griendling, one of the four STEP mentors. "But they're the ones who brought it. The energy. The persistence. Really, the fun of being an engineer."

Jesudunsin O Awodele

Jesudunsin O Awodele
STEP Mentor

Before they lifted a wrench, each of the campers had to get into the mindset of space travelers. Their instructions:

"Imagine you are one of the astronauts selected to spend a couple of years on a Mars Base. You’ve been sent with the parts to assemble yourself a Rover to help you with science missions, basic tasks, and explorations around the planet. However, because you couldn’t know exactly what you needed until you got there, the engineers sent you with a basic Rover kit and parts."

From there, the teens had to get into the mindset of engineers by acquainting themselves with the parts and the software that would let them build a working Rover. This was hardly a matter of gluing parts together. There were sessions on working with electronics, using a multimeter, stripping wires, coding, testing components, technical troubleshooting, and, of course: how to present the finished research project to evaluators.

“While we lost the face-to-face interaction that we had with previous STEP participants, this year's participants proved that a virtual platform could provide a rewarding experience that still taught them valuable lessons about the engineering process,” said ASDL director Dimitri Mavris. "We look forward to seeing some of these students in our ranks in the future."

If you're interested in hearing what tomorrow's engineers are thinking, click on the links, below, to hear those final presentations.

Anthony Gibson
North Clayton High School

Chandler Dolla
Mundy's Mill High School

Jayden Clayton
Northview High School
Jennifer Martinez-Perez
Mundy's Mill High School
Jonathan Yarbough
Southwest Dekalb High School
Luc Bourbeau
Holderness School
Parth Garud
Denmark High School
Will Foster
North Paulding High School
Zion Thomas
Charles R. Drew High School