ASD Students Wrap Up Summer at MIT Engineering Program

ASD Students Wrap Up Summer at MIT Engineering Program
Posted on 09/09/2019
Four ASD Student Participants at Beaverworks 2019

Academy for Science and Design Students Wrap Up Summer at MIT Engineering Program

Nashua, NH - The Academy for Science and Design Charter School (ASD), the state's top-performing public school and largest STEM-specialty school serving students in grades 6-12 announces that after spending the summer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, high school juniors Maria Azcona-Baez and Alison Ryckman and seniors Christian Baduria and Justin Ruiz concluded their four weeks at the 2019 MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute (BWSI). Azcona-Baez, Baduria, Ruiz, and Ryckman were among 250 students selected from more than 130 schools around the nation to participate in the program.  

The BWSI is a summer engineering program for talented rising high-school seniors. From July 8th to August 4th, students worked on hands-on projects, took online courses, and attended lectures presented by leading researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The program is hosted by the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Beaver Works Center, a research center in Cambridge jointly chartered by MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the MIT School of Engineering. 

The MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute is a rigorous, world-class STEM program for talented rising high school seniors. The 2019 program featured ten project-based, workshop style courses: Autonomous RACECAR Grand Prix, Autonomous Air Vehicle Racing, Autonomous Cognitive Assistant, Data Science for Health and Medicine, Build a CubeSat, UAS-SAR, Embedded Security and Hardware Hacking, Hack a 3D Printer, Assistive Technologies Hack-a-thon, and Remote Sensing for Disaster Response. On August 4th, BWSI held their final competition and closing ceremony at MIT.

In the afternoon, the BWSI students, staff, and guests gathered again in the Johnson Ice Rink to watch the RACECAR grand prix. RACECAR was the very first course offered in BWSI — and remains the largest course, with 57 students enrolled this year. For this event, the ice rink was converted into a racetrack with obstacles such as a graveyard, car wash, and giant windmill. Students programmed RACECARs (Rapid Autonomous Complex Environment Competing Ackermann-steering Robots), designed by MIT and Lincoln Laboratory, to navigate the track by using inertial sensors, lidar, and cameras. ASD students Alison Ryckman and Maria Azcona-Baez both were in the Autonomous RACECAR Grand Prix course, with their team placing 2nd overall. 

In the Johnson Athletics Center, students from the Autonomous Air Vehicle Racing class completed an obstacle course race made of bridges and rings hanging at different heights in the air. Each team developed algorithms that allowed an Intel drone to autonomously navigate the race course. The winning team, which included ASD’s Justin Ruiz, completed the course in one minute and 32 seconds.

Christian Baduaria worked with a team in the Autonomous Cognitive Assistant course, a program designed to guide students in learning and applying the foundational technologies of artificial intelligence for building cognitive assistants.

Baduria explained his final project: “Our project was a Fridge Cop, which is a fridge that would be shared among a group of people, like college roommates or coworkers. In a nutshell, the Fridge Cop uses face and voice recognition software to determine who is accessing the fridge and adding/removing food, meaning that it will know whose food belongs to whom”. Baduria continued, “A camera inside the fridge and the food recognition software would help determine which foods are being added and removed by the identified user. With these capabilities, Fridge Cop can track whenever a user removes a food that's not theirs (i.e., one that they didn't add) and tell the food owner about the theft the next time they access the fridge. All in all, the practicality of this technology is it decreases the incentive to steal someone's food, which I believe is pretty cool!"

He also went on to appreciate the transformational opportunity he’s been offered: “After being suggested this program by Mrs. Bewley during my search for an internship, I immediately knew that this was the program that I had to become a part of. Its Cog*Works program aligns one of my greatest passions, which is applying the concept of machine learning, neural networks, methods of data manipulation, and python, in order to design an efficient and intelligent program.” Baduria concluded with a final statement about the program: “I speak from personal experience when I say this: the MIT BWSI program as a whole was created to bring out the best in all of its students and cultivate not only their greatest passions and interests, but important life skills such as teamwork, confidence, and leadership through interactive learning and research-based group projects.”

Serving as both a public, open-enrollment middle/high school with a STEM-specialty focus, the success of the Academy for Science and Design is based on its commitment to engage a diversity of student learners at both of these levels through an exemplary structure for broadening student access to STEM-focused learning opportunities.  Accordingly, ASD’s program design is focused on providing early exposure to opportunities in STEM that younger students may be unaware of, and then encouraging and supporting those students as they pursue a highly personalized pathway to a specialized STEM field in high school. More information can be found on ASD’s website at, or email Marketing and Communications Coordinator For more information about the MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute, please visit

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