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Find That Plane!: Evaluation of a High School Summer Science and Engineering Camp Introducing Robotics to Simulate the Search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 (Works in Progress)

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre- College Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.774.1 - 26.774.19



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Paper Authors


Ricky T Castles East Carolina University

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Dr. Ricky Castles is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering at East Carolina University. He is primarily affiliated with the ECU Electrical Engineering concentration. His research work focuses on the use of wireless sensor networks, microcontrollers, and physiological data collection for a variety of applications. His primary interest is in the area of adaptive tutorial systems, but he has ongoing projects in the area of hospital patient health monitoring. He is actively engaged in K-12 outreach through several venues including Summer Ventures, high school STEM day, the N.C. Science Olympiad, a Math Science Partnership grant, volunteer work with a local literacy camp, Boy Scouts Robotics Merit Badge counseling, and teaching the science portion of VBS and children's Sunday School at his local church.

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Zhen Zhu East Carolina University

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Zhen Zhu is an assistant professor at East Carolina University. From 2010 to 2013 he was a senior research engineer and a principal investigator with the Navigation Systems Division and the Advanced Concepts and Technologies Division in Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems. From 2006 to 2010 he was a Senior Research Engineer with The Ohio University Avionics Engineering Center and an adjunct assistant professor with the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He has developed various systems and algorithms for automatic navigation and guidance of manned and unmanned aircraft. His research interests include sensor integration, vision-aided navigation, aircraft navigation, software radio, and GPS receiver design.

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Find That Plane!: Evaluation of a High School Summer Science and Engineering Camp Introducing Robotics to Simulate the Search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370Each summer is one of several university host sites throughout for a four-week summer science and engineering enrichment camp for academically gifted highschool juniors and seniors. During the first two weeks of the camp experience students engagein interactive research projects in two or three STEM fields. Upon completion of the first twoweeks of the program students then choose to conduct an in-depth research project in one of thedisciplines they have been studying during the final two weeks of the program.In 2014, the engineering portion of this camp was team taught by a pair of electrical engineeringfaculty members assisted by undergraduate research assistants. It utilized the Parallax Boe Botrobot with a Basic Stamp 2 microcontroller to introduce the students to several STEM conceptssuch as computer programming, circuit development and analysis, sensor-driven control logic,data collection and storage, and pattern recognition, all within the context of the search for themissing Malaysian Airlines plane. Students learned how to navigate a course, avoid otherrobots, create a simulated map of the ocean floor using depth sensors, and detect objects ofinterest that may be the missing plane. The overall search and discovery methodology wasintroduced through various short tasks and concluded with students using mobile robots toexamine a simulated ocean floor to identify anomalies indicative of areas of interest that may bethe missing plane.During the final two weeks of the program, seven students conducted in-depth engineeringresearch projects including development of an EEG-based brain-machine interface to controlmobile robots, simulation of a prosthetic hand, automated routing of materials for supply chainmanagement, and development of a quad-rotor helicopter, all of which involved microcontrollersand intensive programming.Details of the course modules are presented including logistical considerations, shortcomings,and lessons learned. The details of each research project are also discussed showcasing broaderimplications for the research.

Castles, R. T., & Zhu, Z. (2015, June), Find That Plane!: Evaluation of a High School Summer Science and Engineering Camp Introducing Robotics to Simulate the Search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 (Works in Progress) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24111

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