April 16, 2022 6:30 am

Friday capped off a weeklong challenge helmed by the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate, and Griffiss Institute — the 2022 Annual Challenge Competition at the Innovare Advancement Center.

“The Challenge Competition is an annual competitive STEM initiative for local high school students. It is held during a week when students are on a school break and its intent is to provide a more realistic view into the types of high-tech problems the nation is facing today, and how engineers and researchers go about dissecting and solving these problems,” notes program information.

Officials at the Friday closing program said students pursuing education in those avenues were setting themselves up for future success as areas like the Mohawk Valley continued to build out its tech sector.

The Challenge

This year’s challenge problem was developed by the Information Systems Division of ARFL/RI, whose mission is to lead research, development, prototyping and demonstration of innovative technologies and systems that advance understanding and application of technologies to enable joint all-domain command and control for Department of the Air Force and the joint force.

Among the teams competing were a pair of Rome Free Academy juniors – Kenneth Davis and Colyn Seeley with a machine learning project.

They chose to spend the week on a project teaching a computer to distinguish and separate different human and animal faces in a crowd. They tested their ability to allow a computer to learn to replicate a human thought process.

The pair said they honed their skills testing for accuracy and uncontrolled variables during four, eight-hour work days that were mixed in with seminars and presentations.

During an awards ceremony, the students heard from local and state elected officials including Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-119, Marcy, who praised the students for participating during spring break and gaining valuable skills and learning that would benefit their future, saying “The option you chose was the best.”

“It is so refreshing to see students and teachers get to explore problems we see here at the lab. … This is just a taste of what your future could be,” Dr. Sarah Muccio, Acting Chief Scientist at AFRL told the students.

“This is a great opportunity. It says a lot about who you are. … Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake,” said Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, R-22, New Hartford.

Community impact

In a keynote speech by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-21, Schuylerville, spoke to the benefits of skillset being pursued by the students, how important those skill sets are across the nation and how they can be applied to careers in the Mohawk Valley.

In a separate Friday announcement, Stefanik announced $25 million to expand research at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome to manufacture and test photonic quantum computing technology.

“I am proud to deliver $25 million to support quantum computing efforts in Upstate New York,” Stefanik said. “Following my advocacy, these taxpayer dollars will return to Upstate New York to support the photonic quantum computing research at the Air Force Research Lab in Rome. Quantum computing is critical to our economic and national security in the 21st Century, and Upstate New York is leading the way as the epicenter of our nation’s efforts in this field.

She continued, “During my time in Congress, I have worked tirelessly to bring tens of millions of dollars to the Air Force Research Lab in Rome to ensure that Upstate New York’s emerging technology environment is well-funded and supported. I look forward to continuing this critical work and delivering additional funding for these efforts in the years ahead.”

See full list of winners:  https://romesentinel.com/stories/student-winners-in-2022-afrl-challenge,132912?

Read the full article here.