BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Students put their autonomous vehicles on the track to see if what they created during Everest STREAM Camp worked, July 26.
Christian Lazzara found his vehicle didn’t follow the track on the first lap around. After tweaking it and lowering the speed, it worked.
“Creative thinking is really what this camp is about,” said Elaina Farnsworth, CEO of NEXT Education. “Let’s work together and figure out how to do this because in real life this happens. You stick with it, you keep with it and teamwork.”
She explained the most campers didn’t know anything about vehicle autonomy when they first walked in.
“Within three days, they built and designed an entire car,” she said. “Some of them worked and some of them didn’t.”
“It was pretty challenging at the beginning because I didn’t understand a lot of it,” Brooklyn Farnsworth added. “All the building and coding, I was just confused. When I finally finished building the car and getting it on the track I felt so accomplished, and I felt like I learned things – I built my own car, let alone self driving. It was just an amazing experience. Some of the things I learned, I never thought I would learn. Now I want to really get into becoming a software engineer. I felt like so accomplished because I coded my own car.”
Rob Correa, COO of NEXT Education, added they mix the lecture portion with hands on experience.
They also tell the campers what they are doing and why they are doing it.
“There’s been frustrating times for them,” he said. “We let them do things wrong – they learn from it.”
“It was a little bit frustrating because some of my wires kept falling off,” said Jinho Fantin. “It was cool because it was driving itself and sensing the lines.”
“It was really cool,” Mauricio Ramirez added. “It got me more interested in maybe being an engineer.”
They were introduced to autonomous vehicles on the first day of STREAM, Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. Then, they spent the next few days designing, planning and testing their vehicles.
Last Thursday, they went on a field trip to May Mobility in Detroit to see the autonomous vehicles the company has on the streets.
“It was amazing,” said Brooklyn. “Seeing the May Mobility shuttle – it was so cool to see what we built but bigger, and see how Detroit and the United States is growing in autonomy.”
The group also went to Lear Corporations in Southfield to see how they design the interior of autonomous vehicles and how it is different from traditional vehicles.
The camp had 10 participants, with five girls and five boys who signed up.
The campers kept the cars and were asking where they could buy parts for them and where they could find the software.
NEXT Education does camps all summer and this was the first time they were at Everest.