CAV camp introduces students to emerging technology, career possibilities

In August, 19 Twin Cities area high school students spent a week exploring all aspects of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) during the third annual CAV Career Pathways Camp

The free camp gives students entering grades 10­–12 a comprehensive introduction to CAV technology and related careers through field trips, hands-on opportunities with vehicles, and interactive classroom sessions.

This year, campers learned to program robot cars with help from U of M graduate student Robert Hairston; designed their own future vehicles; and explored the intersection of CAVs, traffic signals, and planning in sessions with staff from Bolton & Menk and HDR. They also attended a mini transportation career fair featuring representatives from Hennepin County, the City of Golden Valley, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

Other highlights included:

  • Getting an immersive overview of sensor technology and how it’s used in automation from SICK Sensor Intelligence, including a tour of its facility in Bloomington
  • Learning all about unmanned aerial vehicles in a session from Northland Community and Technical College, which included a drone demonstration and flight simulator
  • Visiting Accelerated Vehicle Technology, where campers learned about the tools used for recalibrating Advanced Driver Assistance Systems in vehicles involved in collisions
  • Spending a day at MnROAD, a research facility operated by MnDOT, where students got a firsthand look at CAV technology—and took rides around the test track—in vehicles from The PLUM Catalyst, VSI Labs, and CTS’s MnCAV Ecosystem
Campers watching a drone demo
Camper programming a robot car using a laptop
Campers touring SICK Sensor Intelligence
Campers touring the shop at Accelerated Vehicle Technology
Campers looking at the MnCAV vehicle
Campers ride in a Tesla on the MnROAD test track
Campers talking with representatives at a career fair
CAV campers with their completion certificates

“Thank you for such a terrific camp this week,” one parent said. “Our son really enjoyed it, and we are incredibly impressed with all the thought and great experiences involved in this camp.”

The camp is hosted by the MnCAV Ecosystem, a collaborative environment that advances CAV-related research, engagement, and workforce development at the University. Camp funding is provided by the Federal Highway Administration and administered by MnDOT, with additional funding from CTS.

—Christine Anderson, CTS digital communications manager

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Michael McCarthy