Ehrman Featured in Fox5 Hovercraft Segment

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Team Daedalus Project members Yelena Leznik (left, chemical and biomolecular engineering) and Michelle Stanton (mechanical engineering) with their hovercraft. It must follow a line, activate and pass through a gate, and navigate around several turns in a specially-designed course. The craft is not remote controlled but autonomous—it must accomplish these tasks using only the sensors, computer and equipment the students designed for it.

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) associate professor Sheryl Ehrman was interviewed by reporter Holly Morris as part of Washington, D.C.'s Fox5 Morning News' coverage of the spring ENES 100: Introduction to Engineering Design autonomous hovercraft competition.

Each semester, teams of freshmen engineering majors design and build hovercraft equipped with fans, a steering system, an on-board computer, and sensors. The vehicles, which average about three feet in length, must guide themselves through a course by "seeing" and following a black line around a number of turns. They must also trigger a gate to open. Each team tries to program its hovercraft to complete the course within ten minutes without bumping into the side walls.

In the Fox news segment, Ehrman, a Keystone Professor, described the Keystone program and its benefits to Clark School students: "The Keystone program is...designed to put our best teachers in front of our students early on," she explained to Morris, "[Traditionally,]...students take math, chemistry, [and] physics and they never really do engineering [their freshman year]. So we developed programs to teach them engineering early on...[and] have good faculty in front of them so that they don't quit...In our [Keystone] classes we try to get them excited about engineering...if they stay excited about engineering, even though the classes are hard, they'll stick it out." Ehrman also described the positive effects the program and the hovercraft competition have had on her students, including better teamwork, great creativity, and simply having a good time.

Also featured in the segment was one of the teams she advises, the Daedalus Project, which includes freshman ChBE major Yelena Leznik. The team demonstrated their hovercraft and talked about working on the semester-long assignment.

See This and Other Segments Broadcast from the Competition:

Visit the Fox5 web site »

Learn More:

Visit the Keystone web site »

Read more about the Keystone Program and hovercraft competition in the current issue of the Clark School's E@M magazine »

Published May 10, 2010