December 4, 2022

Supporting STEM: Innovation Challenge @ Dahlgren Targets Critical Area Need

Washington & Lee High School Assistant Principal Wilfredo Hernandez (left) and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division’s Director of Academic Engagement Michael Clark discuss the parameters of the Innovation Challenge @ Dahlgren. Washington & Lee High School in Montross was the first to accept the challenge, designed to highlight the importance of STEM education.

Washington & Lee High School Assistant Principal Wilfredo Hernandez (left) and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division’s Director of Academic Engagement Michael Clark discuss the parameters of the Innovation Challenge @ Dahlgren. Washington & Lee High School in Montross was the first to accept the challenge, designed to highlight the importance of STEM education.

“STEM” learning – science, technology, engineering and math – has been a priority for decades. But fewer young people in the U.S. are pursuing these subjects, and that puts the nation at risk.

The Innovation Challenge @ Dahlgren represents a powerful partnership set to take aim at this critical need in the Fredericksburg region. The robotics-style competition pits teams of high-schoolers against one another in a race of Python coding, sensor integration, navigation, detection, and command and control. Its début on Friday, April 29, and Saturday, April 30, features students from public, private and governor’s schools – from Richmond to Stafford and throughout the Northern Neck – and puts a spotlight on the need for STEM programs.

Held at the University of Mary Washington’s Dahlgren Campus, the event is presented by UMW; the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division (NSWC); MITRE Corporation; and the Fredericksburg Regional Military Affairs Council.

“This collaborative effort offers an amazing hands-on learning experience for area high school students, demonstrating UMW’s commitment to the regional economy and development of talent for in-demand STEM jobs,” said Mary Washington President Troy Paino.

Future leaders in everything from software development and artificial intelligence to the environment and pharmaceuticals will gather for the two-day competition. Their mission? Establish communication with a tiny robot on wheels, program it to maneuver a mat – navigating through the “sea” and around “land masses” – then detect, acquire and act on a target . Winners will split a cash prize of $5,000. Read more.