Penn Manor HS students place first in Sea, Air & Land Challenge

A team of Penn Manor High School students placed first in the Sea, Air and Land Challenge, held April 24 at Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13.

Moses Buckwalter, Graham Thomas, Maxwell Kreitzer, Wesley Kendig and Thomas Hockenberry – all freshmen – won the air portion of the competition, which required teams to design, build and fly drones over a simulated wooded area and release materials on targets.

The exercise was designed to simulate an aerial response to a forest fire.

Each team had a $500 budget to construct a drone and modify it for the competition. The Penn Manor team used computer-aided design to create new motor mounts, landing gear, a payload mechanism and other components, which came to life via the 3D printing process.

During the competition, team members had to explain their project to judges before flying the course. They were judged on the accuracy of their flights and payload drops, the durability of their designs and a preliminary design report.

“The team members were well prepared and conducted themselves in a professional manner at the competition, impressing not only us coaches but also the judges,” said Jon Zimmerman, the Penn Manor High School gifted teacher who serves as the team’s adviser.

 Since December, he has worked with the students during homeroom and after school, with the assistance of Dan Yocom, a Penn Manor parent who served as team mentor.

“I am amazed at the ingenuity and ability of this team to overcome numerous challenges and learn new technology concepts in such a short period of time,” Zimmerman said.

This is the first year Penn Manor has participated in the competition, which is  sponsored by Penn State’s Electro-Optics Center in collaboration with the Office of Naval Research Program.

To cover the cost of materials and entry fees, the Penn Manor team received a $600 Venture Grant from Penn Manor Education Foundation.

Congratulations to students and coaches for an impressive first-year effort!

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