MHS Aeronautics to represent NMI in DC competition

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MARIANAS High School’s Aeronautics team won the overall CNMI-level Real World Design Challenge and will represent the Commonwealth in the national and international competition in Washington, D.C. on April 25.

The MHS Aeronautics team members are Holly Liban, project manager; Gengyan Liu, chief designer; Seung Ju Lee, theoretical scientist; Microl Chen, project mathematician; Jinseok Park, systems designer; Jieun Yang, simulations engineer; and Vivien Liu, business director.

They have designed a small unmanned aerial vehicle capable of delivering about 1,500 packages to specific locations.

This year’s challenge focuses on Unmanned Aircraft Systems that can be used potentially in civil and commercial applications.

The Aeronautics team’s drone, which they named after the legendary Chamorro chief, “Taga,” is a multi-rotor type that can take off and land vertically, and operate in an urban environment.

The drone has excellent aerodynamics, which saves fuel and electricity, the team said.

Taga’s significant components include a LIDAR sensor that allows automatic obstacle avoidance; a brushless motor that allows the drone to take off and fly; a battery that provides power; and a Global Positioning System or GPS, which pinpoints the location of the drone and allows for swift movement.

The team’s business director, Vivien Liu, said they projected a net profit of about $7 million based on a fixed rate of $150 per shipping, and 1,500 delivered packages each day for 30 days.

The team members said their knowledge in the STEM field broadened while they were working on the project.

The Public School System and the Board of Education commended the Marianas High School Aeronautics team on Tuesday for winning the CNMI-level Real World Design Challenge.  Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

“It also improved our communications and collaboration skills,” Liban said. “We learned how to effectively communicate our ideas with one another, and to collaborate with our mentors from all over the world.”

By joining the competition, Liban added, they became aware of real world problems.

“This year’s mission was to design a drone that could deliver packages to an urban area,” she added. “Our team learned that delivery trucks increase the carbon footprint and pollution in an area. By utilizing small drones to deliver packages, the city can significantly decrease its amount of road congestion and environmental pollution.”

Liban said all the team members developed a growth mindset. “We faced many problems in designing the aircraft and fulfilling the mission requirements. But through hard work and grit, we were able to overcome these problems.”

The team members also expressed their gratitude to Dr. Bobby Cruz, the Public School System’s Real World Design Challenge chairman, and coach Patricia Sablan.

The challenge is an annual competition that provides high school students an opportunity to work on real world engineering challenges in a team environment.

“The CNMI Aeronautics of MHS once again demonstrated their ability and significant achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in a real-world problem solving scenario,” Cruz said. “They have proven once again that they are among the best and brightest students in the region and the nation.”

Associate Commissioner for Student & Support Services Dr. Yvonne Pangelinan commended the students for “surpassing our expectations.”

“That’s a testimony to what this world can expect of our kids from PSS,” she added. “You are imaginative, you have heart, and you’ve done the work that needs to be done in a challenge that is theoretical, but the work that you do can impact the world.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the MHS Aeronautics team presented their work to Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada, Board of Education Chairwoman Janice Tenorio, and other education officials.

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