Students tap into local innovation at Wright Brothers Day

A college student, helmet over his eyes, twists his hands, then pulls them apart. A few inches in front of him, a 3D geometric shape appears between two robotic hands that float on the screen, mimicking his movements.

The interactive display from the Air Force Research Lab’s Gaming Research Integration for Learning Laboratory was set up in the atrium of Wright State University’s Student Union last week as part of Wright Brothers Day, an annual celebration held on the anniversary of Wilbur Wright’s 39-minute flight on Huffman Prairie on October 5, 1905.

This was the eighth year for the annual fair, which aims to celebrate the Wright Brothers’ innovation by connecting Wright State students with innovative companies working right here in the Dayton area, said Samantha Andrus, president of the American Marketing Association Club which organizes the annual event.

“Everyone here has some sort of invention or innovation,” she said. “A lot of companies in the Dayton region are following those footsteps, and we want to show students what they can be part of here at WSU.”

For freshman, the event can expose them to the opportunities available in various fields; for juniors and seniors, the event offers a networking opportunity that can lead to internships or jobs.

A team of developers from Mile Two, LLC was at Wright Brothers Day with a demo of their new healthcare app, which is a finalist in a national competition.

David Gross of Galois had a display about the company’s Dayton office and their work developing a backup vision-based navigation system for drone operators to use to fly the machines if GPS goes out — whether that’s because GPS signals are being jammed during a military application, or the signals are simply being blocked by buildings in the heart of a dense city during a commercial application.

Another popular booth was that of the Women in Aviation organization. The locally-based organization boasts 13,000 members and 121 chapters across the country, and it produces two magazines: Aviation for Women & Aviation for Girls.

In the last year, the number of women applying for licenses to fly drones more than doubled from 1,010 to more than 2,500, founder Peggy Chabrian said.

The Wright Brothers Day event allows her to raise awareness of her organization — and the Women in Aviation’s scholarship opportunities — and to encourage young women interested in STEM to continue pursuit of that path.

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