AFCEA STEM Olympics inaugural event: Showcasing young innovators

Students from DODEA participate at the AFCEA STEM Olympics held at the Ramstein Innovation Lab, Apr. 28.

The inaugural AFCEA STEM Olympics, hosted by AFCEA Chapter 158, held on April 28 at the Ramstein Innovation Lab, was a resounding success, drawing attention to the remarkable talents of young minds in programming, cybersecurity, engineering, and STEM challenges. Held virtually, this event combined rigorous competitions with scholarship awards, making it a landmark occasion for STEM education enthusiasts. The drone contest and awards ceremony took place at the Ramstein Innovation Lab, adding an exciting in-person element to the virtual contests.

Diverse and challenging contests

Students competed in four main contests, each designed to push their limits and encourage innovative thinking:

Programming Challenge: Students programmed the behavior of a Snek to outperform other entries. The top honors went to:

1st Place: Leo Schell and Sam Gowell (Kaisersalutern HS)

2nd Place: Barrett Timmons and Jackson George (Stuttgart HS)

3rd Place: Amawre Brown (Vilseck HS)

Cybersecurity Challenge: Partici-pants tackled real-world cyber-security threats, securing operating systems and configuring network security.

The winners were:

1st Place: Bowyn Rosch and Josh Slack (Wiesbaden HS)

2nd Place: Leo Schell and Sam Gowell (Kaiserslautern HS)

3rd Place: Lauren Trace and Angelica Young (Kaiserslautern HS)

Engineering Challenge: Focused on space debris management, students designed systems to capture and deliver space debris using CAD programs.

The winners included:

1st Place: Isaac Wu (Kaiserslautern HS)

2nd Place: Samuel Gowel (Kaisers-lautern HS)

3rd Place: Shawn Jager and Trevor Zimmerman (Ramstein HS)

STEM Challenge: Teams designed atmospheric experiments launched in high-altitude balloons, later analyzing data for comprehensive reports.

The winners were:

1st Place: Trent Wilkerson, Viktor Osadsky, and Sophia Pinero (Ramstein HS)

2nd Place: Jack Salzman, Charles Salzman, and Gabrielle Jeter (Kaiserslautern HS)

3rd Place: Maika Cordova, Cameron McClean, and Javier Harrington (Ramstein HS)

Cutting-Edge drone takes flight: red miniature drone launches into the air, blending technology and adventure for DODEA students across Germany during the AFCEA STEM Olympics at the Ramstein Innovation Lab.

Recognizing excellence in STEM

Beyond student awards, the event recognized educators and schools for their contributions:

Teacher Grants: Teachers with the highest student participation received $500 STEM grants. Honorees included Dr. Michelle Harrington (Ramstein High School), Mr. Brian Barnes (Wiesbaden High School), Mr. Bret Bays (Stuttgart High School), and Mr. Doug Smith (Kaiserslautern High School).

School Awards: Kaisers-lau-tern High School won both the STEM Spirit Award (highest participation) and the STEM Excellence Award (highest overall points).

Celebrating STEM achievements

The live awards ceremony featured keynote speaker Maj Rachel Kolesnikovlindsey, and a thrilling drone contest added to the event’s excitement. Winners of the drone contest demonstrated their skills in both manual and autonomous drone operations, highlighting the practical applications of STEM skills in modern technology.

A legacy of support

AFCEA Chapter 158 has a longstanding tradition of promoting STEM education. Established in 1976, the chapter has been serving the Kaiserslautern Military Community with the mission to increase value and understanding in STEM fields. They work closely with DODDs CTE teachers and industry professionals from both Europe and the U.S. to design competitions that reflect real-world applications. Their ongoing commitment includes organizing events like the European SkillsUSA contests and supporting competitions such as First Robotics, Cyberpatriot, and StellarXplorers.

Inspiring the Next Generation

The AFCEA STEM Olympics highlighted the vital role of STEM education in shaping future innovators. By recognizing and rewarding excellence, AFCEA Chapter 158 is fostering a new generation of scientists, engineers, and technologists poised to tackle tomorrow’s challenges. With scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 for top contenders and dedicated efforts to support educators, this event underscores the importance of STEM education and its impact on future careers.