AEDC amateur radio members present STEM award to Tullahoma Civil Air Patrol

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. -- AEDC amateur radio members attended the Hamvention® in Dayton, Ohio, May 20 where we received an Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) handbook to present to the local Tullahoma Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron.

AEDC retirees Tom Baskin and Jack Hennon and I attended the event.

The Dayton Hamvention is a yearly convention that host over 25,000 amateur radio operators from around the world. This year we attended Four Days in May (FDIM) and entered the competition for the QRP (low power operation) Club Night. This FDIM conference represents low power amateur radio enthusiasts and focuses on experimentation of electronic projects related to amateur radio.

The display included the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics CAP prototype robot hardware the Tullahoma cadets are building to make an operating BB-8 droid featured in the latest Star Wars movie and other various Arduino projects such as Variable Frequency Oscillators.

During the FDIM QRP Club night event, Ed Hare Jr., ARRL Headquarter laboratory supervisor and project review test engineer, presented the hardbound book titled "2016 ARRL Handbook" to me to present to the Tullahoma STEM CAP cadets. On May 23, I presented the ARRL handbook to the Tullahoma CAP cadets for their involvement in the STEM electronic training program. The program is sometimes called a robotic class as we are currently building a BB-8 droid robot.

The AEDC STEM program provided Spark Fun Arduino Inventors kits to the Tullahoma CAP, and I have been teaching the cadets how to do basic electronic projects as well as mentoring the design and build of the BB-8 droid. The Spark Fun kits provide many design and build experiments from basic control of LEDs (light emitting diodes), how to write C++ code to control motors, servos, analog to digital input/output controls, 16X2 LED display and other breadboard projects.

This kit presents projects for potentiometers, photo resistor for light control, temperature control, relay control, shift register and alarm type experiments.

The cadets are a very special team and they have put a lot of hard work into the design considerations in building the droid. Many hours from parents, mentors and CAP leadership supporting the STEM project have proven to be successful in the cadets' learning.

Many challenges are very similar to what electronic engineers face every day in requirement development, design and implementing new system capabilities. STEM skills being developed with the CAP cadets will better prepare them for high school and college advancement and will translate to job skills in the future. This is truly hands on electronic learning with the understanding of the C++ program language. 

"CAP is very appreciative of the STEM support to the cadets," said Capt. Byron Northcutt, the Tullahoma CAP squadron commander. "Many hours [were used] for both the mentors and the cadets to learn and understand basic electronics."

I would also like to thank Ed Hare and the ARRL for supporting the STEM program and their advancement of youth education.

Tullahoma CAP meets every Monday at the National Guard Armory in Tullahoma at 6:30 p.m.

-AEDC-