High School Student Feeds Automotive Interest
Nicholas Loudner has been captivated by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) since he entered the Motorsports Garage on a middle school field trip. “They have a ton of cars that people were working on; dirt bikes and different projects that they do back there, and I thought it was super cool,” he says. When Loudner was tasked to pick a Capstone project as a junior at Metro High School, he knew where he wanted to go.
Metro High School emphasizes STEM curriculum while preparing students for higher education. All of their students complete a Capstone project within a chosen curriculum focus: Bodies, Growth, or Design. Loudner chose the Design pathway, which prepares students for engineering fields.
For his project, Loudner worked in the Driving Dynamics Lab (DDL) to mount sensors that measure linear displacement. While the implementation of stay-at-home orders prevented Lounder from finishing all aspects of his work, he made an impact. “We were able to mount one sensor to the driving simulator and then calibrate the all three of the sensors together,” he says.
In the DDL, Loudner worked closely with Jaxon Wilkerson, a graduate research assistant in the lab. “Nicholas was a quick learner and a pleasure to work with as he helped us build a measurement system for the simulator platform,” says Wilkerson. “Working with Nicolas was a great opportunity to introduce him to topics he will see in his undergrad. Having high school students in the lab has been a great chance to show students what life as an engineering student looks like; they get an early look at the topics and tools used by engineering students while contributing to the lab.”
Loudner and his mentors are still discussing the continuation of the project, even as he learns about the final stages of research: writing a paper and presenting his findings. “I presented my poster in mid-May via Zoom,” he says. The experience Loudner gained at CAR will be valuable as he plans to pursue a degree in engineering and develop his interest in automotive research.