Seven teams of high school or career tech students participated in this year’s Speedfest, an unmanned areal vehicle competition, at Oklahoma State University’s Unmanned Aircraft Flight Station in Stillwater, held April 28-29.
Each team under the collegiate level was given an aircraft kit to build for the competition, said Dr. Andrew S. Arena Jr., professor, T.J. Cunningham Endowed Chair and Acting Director of NASA Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium and EPSCoR School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at OSU.
“All seven showed up with a flyable airplane, and all performed well,” Dr. Arena said. “They didn’t lose a single plane.”
Teams at the high school level, in order of final standings, were from: Oklahoma Christian School in Edmond, Clinton High School, Meridian Technology Center, Yukon High School, Great Plains Technology Center, Claremore High School, Francis Tuttle Technology Center.
Dr. Arena said the goal of the competition – in its second year – is to promote the aerospace industry in Oklahoma. He said OSU has competed in and won a number of international aerospace competitions in the past, but he wanted to turn the focus back to Oklahoma.
“We want to try to education people in other states about what we do here, and excite people in our state about aviation,” Dr. Arena said.
He said he invited high school students this year because there are many robotics teams in the state but not as many aerospace programs at the high school level.
“Aerospace is such a big part of the Oklahoma economy,” he said. “Unmanned areal vehicles have become very important to our state and to our governor.”
The Oklahoma Commissioners of the Land Office, also known as the “School Land Trust” last year approved a 5-year renewable lease to Oklahoma State University for the unmanned areal vehicle park to support the university’s unmanned aircraft program. The airpark is located on what formerly was agricultural land, said Terry Watkins, Director of Communications for the Land Office.
“The great thing about this is it got the high schools students interested in physics and science,” Watkins said. “And the money from the lease is going right back to the schools – so it’s full circle.”
We’re happy for programs that promote a love of science and physics and that help prepare students for future careers in industries such as aviation and technology. Thank you OSU for opening this competition to our high school students, and thank you to the land office for supporting our schools.
See videos, photos and other information about this year’s competition.