Monday, July 13, 2015

2015-07-13: Autonomy Incubator Gains Two High School Volunteers

Nick, left, and Zach, right

The Autonomy Incubator (AI) and its already booming population of interns are proud to welcome two high school volunteers for the rest of the summer, rising juniors Zach Wusk of Tabb High School and Nick Selig of Norfolk Collegiate School.  Both Zach and Nick have already become a comfortable part of the routine of daily life here in Building 1222, and we look forward to the valuable help and ideas they'll bring to the AI over the next four weeks.

While they'll be working as a team, the two volunteers came to the AI through very different paths—according to Nick, he "got linked with [LaRC AI head] Dr. Allen" through a family friend who works across the street in Building 1268, while Zach ended up here through an even more personal connection: both his parents work at NASA Langley Research Center.  His dad is a pilot for the Airborne Science Data program, and his mom also works in the hangar with the Game-Changing Development group.

Although both express a desire to study engineering in college, both are still learning about different fields before deciding on a specialization.  Nick, for his part, enjoys the more computer-based side of the AI's research.

"I like how they do software—code it and program it and stuff. I think it's really cool," he said. He's also excited to see the UAVs do some "navigation and maneuvering" after hearing about Loc's tree-dodging machine learning research.

Zach, meanwhile, declares a greater interest in the real-world applications of what the AI's vehicles can do.

"I'm interested in drone flight and the different ways it can be used," he said. "I'd really like to see when they're all swarming together," he added, referencing Gil's research on coordinating flight in a flock micro UAVs.  He's seen some of Javier and Bilal's coordinated flight research, he said, and will be interested to see what comes next.

So far, Zach and Nick have tackled their first task together—assembling the golf net the AI ordered for portable demos—with alacrity.  Now, all they have to do is find a way out of it.

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