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Los Alamos Composite Squadron

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LANL Foundation STEM Grant Award

December 2014

The Los Alamos Civil Air Patrol Squadron, Los Alamos Composite Squadron, is a non-profit, volunteer organization. Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is the Official United States Air Force Auxiliary, but relies on the the generosity of the local community and its volunteers to keep the program going. This last year, the Senior members made a commitment to significantly grow the Cadet Aerospace and STEM program. A major part of that effort was to seek the help of the LANL Foundation to help fund a portion of the significant one time investment to grow the program.

In October of 2014, LANL Foundation Awarded the Los Alamos Composite Squadron a $1500 STEM Grant to support the Squadron's RC and Robotics program. This is having a direct and immediate impact on the programs being made available to the Cadets.

Prior to the Award, Los Alamos Composite Squadron was using equipment temporally on loan from a private individual to support the RC Flying team. The RC Flying Team won a State wide competition of CAP Squadrons at the Kirkland Air Force Base in September 2014.

The Squadron has a self-propelled glider, called the Calypso, and a Champ, a popular park flyer, small battery powered aircraft, from Horizon, to help teach aerodynamics of how airplanes fly. This is a great resource for Cadets to have an immediate hands on feel of flying an airplane Previously, most of the training was done using equipment temporarily on loan. The loan of the equipment, transmitters and buddy boxes, enabled the flight instruction to be conducted in a safe and controlled environment that meets the requirements of the local RC Club. This type of equipment not only protects the Squadron's Assets but limits down time and keeps both aircraft intact and flyable. Other equipment on loan included RC Simulators, Electric Trainer, chargers, batteries, etc. A portion of the Grant was used to purchase all the necessary equipment needed to continue the RC program going without having to rely on equipment on loan. The squadron now has its own transmitters, buddy boxes, RC simulators, electric trainer, chargers, batteries, etc. Another benefit of purchasing this equipment, the Cadets now have an opportunity to build and fly airplanes they build themselves.

The remaining portion of the Award was used to purchase two of Lego's Mindstorm Core Education Sets. These will be used to startup a Robotics program. The Mindstorm is programmed with a version of LabView software. There is a free version of the software and an Educational version for purchase that allows for data logging and other more advanced features. This is a great STEM program that can be leveraged to take the Cadets to a more advanced level using programs like RobotC to teach the Cadets "C" like programming skills. This makes for a smooth transition to platforms like the Arduino where basic electronics will be taught and demonstrated. Mindstorm and Arduino will be used to teach data logging, real-time tracking, control systems, and other embedded system development.

The Award indirectly supports the other areas of the Los Alamos Composite Squadron's STEM program. The programs supported by the Award are part of the larger program including a Space program developed around a Space/Flight Simulator donated last year to the Squadron. The other STEM programs are the Rocketry program and the CyberPatriot program which teaches Cadets how to protect and fight against hackers. There is a growing National Security need for individuals with these skills.

The Los Alamos Composite Squadron is grateful to the LANL Foundation for their generous Award and looks forward to years of educational benefit for the Cadets.