Students showcase STEM projects, RC cars at Eldora Speedway

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- More than 200 local high school students attended the fourth annual Full Throttle STEM® at Eldora Day in Rossburg, Ohio, May 10 hosted by the Air Force Research Laboratory's 711th Human Performance Wing.

Students showcased their projects including assistive technologies, a wind tunnel, a virtual sand table, remote controlled cars and projects utilizing computer-aided design/three-dimensional modeling tools.

"The goal of this event is to spark student interest in STEM fields and increase interest in related career fields," said Winston "Wink" Bennett, technical advisor for the Warfighter Readiness Research Division. "Throughout their academic semester, students focus on applying skills such as physics (in racing), graphics design and marketing in order to design, develop and race their own RC car."

Rico Abreu, a professional stock car racing driver, was the guest speaker and kicked off the event by speaking to the students about how their fields of study impact the racing world.

"There are a lot of different ways to look at science, technology, engineering and math," said Abreu. "We have several engineers who all work to make the cars go fast."

Abreu, who is 4 foot 4 inches tall, stated that the engineers who built his car had to make modifications.

"With my short stature, they had to build my car to suit me," Abreu said. "Some of the differences are the placement of the gas pedal and how I'm more centered in the car.  It takes a team to do that."

Following lunch, RC car races were held in the speedway concourse. 

The students' cheers thundered through the speedway as they rooted for their fellow classmates during the races.

Abreu also stepped to the track and got a taste of RC car driving, using an RC car from Bennett and the Gaming Research Integration for Learning Laboratory® team.

Students from St. Henry High School won in the drag race event as well as the RC car course race. Dylan Giere, a junior from St. Henry, was the operator of the winning autonomous vehicle race, moving his RC car through the track with ease.

Eldora Speedway owner and NASCAR driver Tony Stewart made a surprise visit to get in on the RC racing action. He raced Giere, but the teen won in the final stretch.

Nine schools districts were in attendance including Ansonia, Arcanum, Bradford, Milton-Union, New Bremen, Northmont, St. Henry, Tri-Country North and Tri-Village Schools.

"An event like this can't happen without the community or without Eldora," Bennett said as he thanked the students, teachers and Eldora Speedway personnel.

The fifth annual Full Throttle STEM® at Eldora Day is being planned for May 2017, when students will have an opportunity to compete in the first ever Full Throttle STEM® Autonomy Challenge. Autonomy is a big area of emphasis for Department of Defense research and development, and this challenge is a way to get real-world Air Force content directly into local classrooms.

For more information on the AFRL or on the 711th Human Performance Wing's GRILL®, contact Jennifer Winner at 937-938-4016 or visit