This past summer, Spencer Ng attended the Beaver Works Summer Institute (BWSI), an intensive, four-week residential summer program held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) promoting emerging technologies through collaborative, hands-on projects. Students took classes taught by MIT Lincoln Laboratory staff on a variety of cutting-edge topics, from programming artificial intelligence virtual assistants and hacking embedded security systems to exploring the intersection of data science and medicine. A highlight of the program were daily guest lectures from STEM industry professionals, including MIT professors, Google and NASA engineers, and Lockheed Martin executives, which broadened students’ knowledge and prepared them for future careers.
Spencer chose to take the Autonomous Air Vehicle Racing course at BWSI, in which he learned to program the Intel Ready-to-Fly Drone using Python and Robotics Operating System. During the four weeks, students in the class learned the dynamics behind quadcopter flight, machine learning, and state estimation using sensors. By implementing a closed-loop feedback controller and computer vision algorithms, Spencer and a team of high school students from across the United States were able to have the drone autonomously race through the final obstacle course, following an LED strip while avoiding large gates and hurdles.