Showcasing unmanned technology while raising student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Northrop Grumman Corporation (NGC) sponsored the first Unmanned Systems Rodeo competitionin the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over a two day period at the Higher Colleges of Technologies campus in Abu Dhabi (04-05 May 2011).
The Rodeo is a competition that challenges students to design, fabricate and demonstrate an unmanned system capable of completing a specific and independent mission while developing teamwork and presentation skills. The teams developed, produced and tested their unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) over a four-month period.
Northrop Grumman was the lead sponsor for the Rodeo. The competition consisted of 11 teams from the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), two of which represented the Abu Dhabi Women's Campus (ADWC). Northrop Grumman aerospace engineers traveled to the UAE and served as mentors to the student competitors during their preparation.
Team Robotics from Dubai Men's College won the competition with less than one point separating the top three places. Wes Bush, CEO and president of Northrop Grumman, awarded them the first place prize, an all-expenses-paid trip in August to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) convention in Washington, D.C., USA. During AUVSI, Team Robotics will discuss their design and presentation.
"Northrop Grumman is honored to sponsor this competition that fosters new types of innovation in the UAE," said Wes Bush, CEO and President of Northrop Grumman. "The Rodeo provides an opportunity to transfer knowledge and technology to the younger generation, which is an important element of the strategic vision established by UAE leadership. I'm confident that the enthusiasm we saw at this year's Rodeo competition will inspire its expansion and will further encourage tomorrow's generation of Emirati scientists and engineers to develop similar ground-breaking technologies for the future."
In April 2010, Northrop Grumman signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with HCT to collaborate and explore ways to enhance STEM-related education in areas that build local capacity across various sectors in the UAE. The Rodeo competition is a direct result of the MoU.
"The Rodeo is a perfect example of how Northrop Grumman continues to cultivate widespread literacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics," said Pamela Frazier, Vice President Northrop Grumman International, Inc. "We aim to support STEM teaching at all educational levels – domestic and international – with a goal to deepen student appreciation and excitement for STEM programs and careers, especially among females and other minorities."
Northrop Grumman was joined by organizers of the event, The Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis, the host of the event, HCT, and the associate sponsors, Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investment and UAE Armed Forces, to judge the competition over a two-day period based upon the teams' UAV speed and endurance score, aircraft weight and overall presentation.