Engineering & Technology at SVGS


Students have worked with Audio editing with Audition and Photoshop, both are part of the Adobe Suite programs.  The students have worked hard and accomplished much.  They are learning how to edit digital photos they have taken with Photoshop now.  This is the most fun part of the class for many students because it combines art, creativity and humor.


In APCS the class is working on programming projects in Java that are aimed at learning about data structures and how to build a Class in Java.  As we build a foundation for their work we are learning about algorithms and how to think through a programming problem.  Students just finished working on a program to play the dice game Craps and a vending machine problem that will sell snacks and return the correct change.


The Network Security class is continuing its participation in online contests.


SVGS students are competing in the Air Force Association’s National Youth Cyber Defense competition called CyberPatriots. In the first round, SVGS had one team place in the GOLD Tier and 2 teams place in the PLATIUM tier out of over 6300 teams competing across the nation.  ​​Teams will compete again in January and February.SVGS teams already completed an exhibition round and a training round, and are currently working on the final practice round before competition starts  They are looking for vulnerabilities or configuration errors that the CyberPatriot staff has added to Ubuntu, Debian, Windows 10, and Server 2016 images.

All rounds of the national competition in CyberPatriot, with the exception of the National Finals Competition, take place online. Teams must complete all their work during one (1)  six consecutive-hour period on the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday of these competition windows. View this instructional video  to see how it works.  From “The competition puts teams of students in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. In the rounds of competition, teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services.”




In between rounds of the Cyber Patriots contest, the class competed in the practice round of Radford University’s RUSecure capture the flag contest (  The teams found all the Linux and Networking flags, along with most of the web reconnaissance/social engineering flags. This contest challenged students in a wide variety of topic areas including anatomy of an attack, an introduction to networking, cryptography, forensics, web security, and Windows/Linux security.

The SVGS team “The Internet Explorers” with Ben Rochford, Nathan Harris, Luke Gaines, Cameron Gates, and Josh Weaver placed 16th out of 160 teams

The “Whatever Works” team with Julian Wilson, Isaac Coffey, Noah Robeck, Nick Kanode, and Max Jones placed 30thSee the final results (  Many of the teams were community colleges.  The competition round of the RUSecure CTF will be in March.

Also int he first semester, students have practiced using software that allows them to run a virtual image of another operating system on their school computers or their own laptops.  SVGS and CyberPatriots use VMware Workstation Player to run virtual images.  For the majority of the first quarter, the students studied a version of the Linux operating system called Ubuntu.  Many Internet servers and most security software runs on Linux, so knowledge of Linux will be useful for anyone considering work in the cyber security field, or information technology in general.  At least one of the competition images in each round of CyberPatriots is Linux.  The other images are Windows 10 or Server 2016.

The students have recently moved into a module on Networking.  CyberPatriots teams have access to selected modules from the Cisco Networking Academy, which is professional online instruction for industry networking certifications.  Students will complete simple network labs using basic network components (switches and routers) as well as completing network simulations using Cisco Packet Tracer software.  Packet Tracer will be featured in the CyberPatriots rounds.

These are photos of our students at their workstations as they solve problems in the CyberPatriots practice round.


In the process of building the STEM cycle (electric go-cart) members of the Electric Vehicle Team have completed the motor mount, built and tested the motor controller and are currently working on the brakes and steering. The goal is to have the STEM cycle ready to race at the EV Challenge next spring. The team has also replaced some of the degraded cells in the Datsun and practiced driving with its manual transmission.


As part of the mechanical engineering unit, Engineering I students completed the Bracket Design Challenge. Teams of students designed and simulated cantilever brackets using Autodesk Inventor. The brackets were then printed on the 3D printer and tested with weights to determine if the stress analysis was accurate.

The final unit of the first semester in engineering focused on simple machines, mechanical advantage and efficiency. Students experimented with different types of simple or compound machines and learned how to calculate their mechanical advantage and efficiency. Energy conversion devices and systems were also researched and tested for their efficiency and effectiveness. The semester culminated in a class-wide Christmas themed, Rube Goldberg machine. Teams of students worked to design and build compound machines that started with a lit candle and ended by ringing a bell. The different teams collaborated with each other to insure that the last step of one teams’ system triggered the first step of the next team. This project incorporated the engineering design process, communication, teamwork, rapid prototyping, simple machines and energy conversions.

Engineering I began with rapid prototyping of newspaper towers. The engineering design process was explained and experienced. Students have also identified and imagined solutions for some of the many challenges facing society. The reverse engineering of friction cars and research into famous engineering failures helped to promote hands-on skills as well as an awareness of the limitations of engineering designs.

Engineering design teams were formed based on personality profiles and skills assessments. Teamwork and collaboration are important aspects of engineering. With kinematics and dynamics providing mathematical models, we began our study of moving objects. Civil engineering was introduced through the Traffic Jam project as well as surveying and bridge design. The forces on stationary objects was explored using statics.

Mechanical drawing and Autodesk Inventor are next on the syllabus. Students will develop their drafting skills and use them to design ABS (plastic) brackets for 3D printing and testing. This introduction to mechanical engineering will include torque and finite element analysis through problems and Autodesk simulations. The first semester will culminate with a unit on energy and machines.


Engineering II students focused on drone flying and thermodynamics and energy systems. for the second half of the first semester. Students fine-tuned the quadcopters they built, learning about PID controllers, adjusting control settings and practicing their flying skills. The term concluded with the study of thermodynamics, focusing on heat engines and thermal cycles. A trip to the Provides U.S. Inc. heat exchanger facility in Verona highlighted aspects of fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, material science and manufacturing. The Stirling Engines designed and built by the Engineering II students demonstrated an interesting application of thermodynamics.

Students also did some rapid prototyping but their primary focus of was building drones. Students developed mechanical, electronic & programming skills as they assembled DJI F 450 quadcopters. Communication and videography skills were required to produce assembly instructions. Students are currently fine-tuning the RC controls and developing their piloting skills in collaboration with Mr. Nylander.The historical and scientific background for working with drones was developed through research into the history of flight along with the study of fluids, including buoyancy, drag, lift and<em> thrust. Fluid mechanical concepts were examined through an airfoil design project. Autodesk Inventor was used to create 3D wing sections which were then tested in a simulated wind tunnel using Flow Design. The relationship between theoretical and practical designs should help with future projects and drone flights.

Engineering II students are also exploring the impact of the industrial revolution on modern society and how innovative thinking and modern technology may be applied to meeting current societal challenges. Students grasp of these concepts will be applied in their long-term project proposals.



Map of Houston flooding after Hurricane Harvey courtesy of Thomas Otteni and Jacob Freeman

Students have been researching and mapping hurricanes for the last two months. They began with Hurricane Katrina, then they applied what they learned to a hurricane of their choice with more research and maps. For the midterm, they presented their maps to Mr. Rittenhouse, a professor at JMU. Next semester, they will start working on their own research projects and continue to develop new GIS skills.

GIS students have just finished their first big project where they use data within maps to show how to evacuate an area after an interstate accident.  The incident occurred in Springfield, Virginia in 1999 when a truck containing black powder overturned on a ramp.  Students had to determine the safe zones, shelters, evacuation routes, and detours in a very busy section of the state called the “mixing bowl”.  This project was the first major project of the year and is preparing them to work with hurricanes for their midterm exam, beginning with Katrina.


This part of the course is exploring the OSI model of the internet.  How does a message get from computer A to the user on computer B. We are discussing the protocols and using Wireshark, a packet-sniffing program, to follow some network traffic.  The network traffic should illustrate what we are discussing in class.  The image below is a Wireshark capture.