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DriveOhio's Vertiport Innovation Challenge Prioritizes STEM Outreach in Schools

COLUMBUS – School is back in session and DriveOhio has partnered with the Mastery School of Hawken in northeast Ohio to kick off its latest Vertiport Innovation Challenge. Using Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills, students will focus on identifying an opportunity to implement advanced air mobility in their community.

During the next month, student teams will work with industry mentors to develop a real-world application in healthcare supply delivery, "middle mile" cargo delivery, and "last mile" drone delivery. The final proposal will not only pinpoint solutions, but also the aviation infrastructure needed to support operations, such as a network of vertiports or mobility hubs, in alignment with the recently released Ohio Advanced Air Mobility Framework.

"As the state's manufacturing footprint grows and transportation technology continues to advance, investing in Ohio's emerging workforce is critical," said Governor Mike DeWine. "These science and technology-based outreach programs help prepare our next generation of leaders, showing our students that opportunities are limitless." 

Inspired by the recent Kroger drone delivery pilot in Centerville, one team of students will brainstorm how to use small uncrewed aircraft systems to deliver groceries and food. Another will tackle how electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft could deliver critical medical supplies between hospitals, and a third team will focus on using eVTOLs to move cargo between logistics hubs.

"The Mastery School of Hawken is founded on the philosophy that we learn things best when working to solve a real and urgent problem. This design challenge with FlyOhio allows students to engage in deep learning about physics and technology and gain exposure to this exciting new industry through the lens of the real challenges professionals in the advanced air mobility field are grappling with," said Julia Hodges, Founding Faculty at Mastery School of Hawken.

"We already know that our investments in advanced air mobility today have the potential to grow Ohio's mobility economy for decades to come, but that doesn't happen without a robust and skilled workforce to support this rapidly-changing industry. Reaching students in the classroom and tapping into their passion is just another way to position Ohio for success in this space," said Preeti Choudhary, Executive Director of DriveOhio.

If you are interested in shaping the future smart mobility workforce and are interested in a future vertiport innovation challenge, or bringing STEM activities to your school, contact workforce@drive.ohio.gov. To learn more about DriveOhio's workforce programs, visit drive.ohio.gov/workforce


About DriveOhio

DriveOhio is Ohio’s portal to advancing smart mobility. Together with its partners, DriveOhio has developed the world’s most advanced smart mobility ecosystem of connected, autonomous, electric, and shared transportation – on the ground, in the air, everywhere. In addition to advancing projects with cutting-edge transportation technology, DriveOhio is committed to developing the workforce that’s critical for this new, and quickly-evolving industry. With a goal to engage Ohio’s emerging workforce from Pre-K to PhD with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) outreach programs and problem-based learning, DriveOhio will help students envision future smart mobility careers.

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