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AFRL Challenge Competition to test high schoolers over spring break

Posted 4/8/22

ROME — The Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate’s STEM Outreach Program, powered by Griffiss Institute and Innovare Advancement Center, will host the …

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AFRL Challenge Competition to test high schoolers over spring break


ROME — The Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate’s STEM Outreach Program, powered by Griffiss Institute and Innovare Advancement Center, will host the 13th AFRL Challenge Competition — to be held in-person for high school teams during the week of spring break.

The 2022 AFRL Challenge Competition will be held at the Innovare Advancement Center beginning on Monday,  April 11 and ending Friday, April 15.

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. The best explanation to describe the competition is — “mental marathon.”

The teams will receive the challenge problem when they arrive Monday morning and have the next three days to solve it. AFRL engineers and scientists will be on hand to answer questions regarding the challenge problem throughout the week.

On Friday, judging will take place in the morning, followed by an awards ceremony to support, congratulate and recognize the technology leaders of tomorrow.

“For many of the participants, being able to spend a week bouncing ideas off local engineers will be an incredible benefit and opportunity,” said Melissa Tallman, Innovare community coordinator.

The AFRL Challenge Competition gives many of the participants a new perspective on the field of engineering and they get to learn more about the work that takes place at both, the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate, the Griffiss Institute, and the Innovare Advancement Center.

Once again, the students will be competing for college scholarships. The first-place team will each receive a $3,000 scholarship, the second-place team members will each receive a $2,000 scholarship, the third-place team will receive a $1,000 scholarship each, and the fourth-place team will each receive a $500 scholarship. 

“We are excited to be holding the competition in person again this year,” said Jeffrey DeMatteis, AFRL/RI STEM Outreach coordinator. “This year’s challenge involves machine learning and image classification. It is an interesting topic and is relevant to the Air Force Research lab.”

The seven area high school teams participating are:

Central Valley Academy

Students: Seth Brownrigg and Eamon Miller; Teachers: Wes Laurion and Kelly Long

Madison Oneida BOCES 

Students: Dylan Snow and Caulin Young-Oster; Teacher: Michael Briggs

Oneida High School

Students: Kaleb Lanz and Jonathan Litwak; Teacher: Pete Gillander

Rome Free Academy

Students: Kenneth Davis and Colyn Seeley; Teacher: Albert Bangs

Thomas R. Proctor High School

Students: Jonathan Howard and Hsa Moo Paw; Teacher: Jessica Dubois

Utica Academy of Science Charter School 

Students: Mohamed Alhyawah and Muamer Huseinovic; Teacher: Harun Seker

Westmoreland High School

Students: Sean Hyde and Joshua Suber; Teacher: Nicholas Darrah.

More details

Griffiss Institute is a non-profit STEM talent and technology accelerator for the U.S. Department of Defense and an international network of academic, government and industry partners. Since 2002, the GI has served the Air Force, the Mohawk Valley region, and the United States, empowering diverse teams with talent and technology development programs that lead the nation in technical and economic impact.

Innovare Advancement Center is a 150,000 square-foot open innovation hub that converges world-class scientific, engineering and entrepreneurial talent from universities, government, and industry to tackle new challenges in artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, quantum, and unmanned aerial systems.

Innovare’s unique capabilities include highly specialized laboratories for experimentation in quantum communications and neuromorphic computing, 40,000 square feet of high-tech and high-speed communications-enabled collaboration spaces, an auditorium with capacity for more than 250 people, an access point to the New York UAS Test Site, and coming in spring 2022 – an indoor unmanned aerial system (UAS) research and testing facility. For more information, go to

About AF STEM Outreach Program — The goal of the AF STEM Outreach Program is to foster a new generation of scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technologists who will one day discover, and problem solve in the nation’s defense laboratories and other supporting U.S. companies.



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