Youth Aerospace Program wows youth with robots, drones, 3D printing
Awestruck faces at the Marysville Boys and Girls Club proved Operation Trident was a major success.
For an entire week, July 23-27, members of Seattle Goodwill’s Youth Aerospace Program (YAP) separated into four teams to complete a mission requiring robotics, 3D printing, drone flying and bridge engineering — all technology YAP Program Supervisor Daniel Ruiz said is the future of the aerospace industry.
The project culminated in the YAP — a cohort of soon-to-be high school seniors — presenting a demonstration called Operation Trident on Friday, July 27, to a room full of wide-eyed, elementary-school aged Marysville Boys and Girls Club youth members.
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“The goal was for (YAP students) to test their knowledge very quickly in these areas, but also at the same time work really well together as a team,” Daniel said. “They also worked side-by-side in service projects, working for a food bank, at a senior center and also working at (a Goodwill) store. That was a way for them to build even more team building by doing for others.”
The week was a great introduction to what’s in store for students of the YAP — a free two-year Seattle Goodwill program that exposes students to the aerospace industry, prepares them for college and builds soft skills.
"It was for the kids, so I tried to make it fun. It was fun getting them interested and getting them involved in what we were doing." -YAP student Jontay Giles
Each YAP student group built a robot, used 3D printing to apply key components to their robot, flew drones and built bridges for the robots to maneuver over. For Operation Trident, the four robots controlled by YAP students navigated an obstacle course littered with various debris and hostiles, and they needed to retrieve a special package at end of the course before returning safely.
“They pulled together a lot of design ideas and construction in one week,” said Susan Stachowiak, a mechanical engineer, Seattle Goodwill volunteer and guest judge. “It’s very impressive to learn how to do 3D printing models and solve their problems all in 20 hours. They need to teach people in the industry stuff like that.”
The Boys and Girls Club kids were fixated with the robots and couldn’t get enough of the drones whizzing about their heads. And everyone got a laugh when Daniel revealed the contents of Operation Trident’s special package – a pack of Trident gum.
“We worked really well,” said YAP student Jontay Giles, an incoming senior at Mariner High School whose team took first place for their execution in the mission. “It was for the kids, so I tried to make it fun. It was fun getting them interested and getting them involved in what we were doing. I took engineering design (at Mariner) and worked with 3D designing. As soon as I did that, I feel in love with it. Knowing I can take this program and then get a job, it’s a dream.”
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