Building student skills in programming, electronics, robotics, and cybersecurity
Fairmont State University’s Iron Falcon project, led by assistant professor Marcus Fisher, is an annual initiative to develop the skills and capabilities of West Virginia students in programming, electronics, robotics, and cybersecurity.
In April 2019, Monongalia Meteors—a group of third, fourth, and fifth grade students at Brookhaven and Cheat Lake Elementary schools—built a spacecraft that was launched onboard the Cygnus NG-11. Previously known as CRS OA-11, Cygnus NG-11 was the 12th flight of Northrop Grumman’s robotic resupply aircraft to the International Space Station, which launched from Wallops Island, Virginia. During the flight to the space station, Monongalia Meteors’ spacecraft, which was only slightly larger than a piece of bread, left the rocket and was dropped into Earth’s orbit.
The following day, data from the spacecraft became available. Students then learned how scientists use data to answer questions by using the information obtained from their own spacecraft to do conduct a similar data analysis activity.
The next Iron Falcon event was scheduled to take place in April 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eighteen schools planned to participate. Some constructed robots ahead of time to compete in an outdoor course while fending off cyberattacks from other teams. The program is designed to provide students with a better understanding of cybersecurity and programming.
Those interested in joining the Iron Falcon project can contact Fisher directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.