Madison, Ala. -- The Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, in conjunction with the Army Educational Outreach Program and Bob Jones High School, hosted the Junior Solar Sprint competition in Madison, Alabama in May.

The Junior Solar Sprint challenges students to use scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork to design, build and race high-performance solar electric vehicles. The competition was open to fifth through eighth grade students attending public or private school within Madison County, Alabama. Teams were judged on speed, supporting evidence of their design, artistic merit, and craftsmanship.

Katie Banish, a fifth grader from Blossomwood Elementary School, placed first in the competition. She narrowly edged out second place finisher Houston Trimble, a fifth grader from New Hope Elementary School. Both received paid travel expenses to attend the 2014 National Technology Student Association Conference in Washington D.C. where they will compete in the National JSS.

AMRDEC's Educational Outreach Office hosted the event to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, education in the area.

Outreach manager Gayla McMichael said the event provided hands-on opportunities for students to apply STEM concepts, creativity and problem-solving skills, as they designed, constructed and raced solar-powered cars. Participants used their imagination and ingenuity to construct vehicles powered by a standardized solar cell and motor, which was provided by AEOP.

The event took place at the Madison City Schools Stadium parking lot and was also coordinated with Huntsville City and Madison County Public Schools.

Four engineering students from the University of Alabama in Huntsville served as the events judges; Jordan Teats, Geoff Suiter, and Adam Bower and Evan Tingley. AMRDEC volunteers included event coordinator Tommy Harris, Joel Price, Melaine Fowler, John Towns and Jenny Hess.

For more information about this and other STEM opportunities at AMRDEC, see


The Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.

RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.