Northrop Grumman Corporation is an American aerospace and defense technology company, and one of the largest defense contractors in the world. It employs more than 68,000 people, but it also gets some great product development ideas each year from a group of enthusiastic volunteers—students who participate in the Northrop Grumman High School Innovation Challenge.
About Northrop Grumman’s Innovation Competition
The High School competition platform takes place from February through April each year and is hosted by select Northrop Grumman sites. It’s a design competition that in the past has challenged students to create remote-controlled airplanes, launcher systems, airships, and deployables. The event promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and encourages students to discover the interesting and rewarding aspects of these disciplines.
With mentoring from Northrop Grumman employees, teams of up to 10 students from grades 9-12 design and build engineering solutions. They then demonstrate their inventions and compete against other nearby schools. Teams must submit a report describing their project before the event, pitch their design to Northrop Grumman judges, and complete a challenge using their solution on the day of the competition.
Developing More Than Just Ideas
While the stated goal of the competition is to come up with the best engineering solutions, the organizers know that the event produces much more than just new technology. Participants develop teamwork and presentation skills, creativity and resourcefulness, and an appreciation for where STEM education can take them. Ultimately what the innovation competition is looking to produce is the next generation of engineers and scientists.
Any high school student can get involved. No engineering background or experience in this kind of event is required. Participating schools receive funds to help them flesh out their idea, and the top three teams at each contest site get cash prizes for their school’s science department.
Last Year’s High School Innovation Challenge
While information on the theme of the 2017 Challenge is not yet available, the 2016 Challenge was to build a remote-controlled hovercraft. The vehicle was then pushed to its limits in a competition that tested its acceleration, top-end speed, maneuverability, and control.
Taking Technology to its Limits
Tomorrow’s scientists and engineers are in school today. Skild thanks Northrop Grumman for coordinating the competition software that give students an enticing taste of what their STEM-based career could be. And we look forward to the results of this year’s High School Innovation Challenge.