AESS Binghamton Chapter Builds "IEEE Astroways" Disc Golf Course

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AESS Binghamton Chapter Builds "IEEE Astroways" Disc Golf Course
Vince Socci, Binghamton AESS Chapter Chair
7 February 2022

The AESS Binghamton Chapter had an active and productive year, despite an ongoing pandemic. They held 35 meetings in 2021 plus 12 section executive committee meetings. There were various technical events held with topics ranging from drone technology to electric vehicles to surveillance radar. Social events were held such as the IEEE picnic, IEEE DGO, Binghamton Philharmonic, and a public speaking class. The educational programs include various STEM programs with the Kopernik Observatory, virtual distinguished lectures, service projects, and advanced topics like autonomous vehicles. 

A major contribution this year was the sponsoring, development, and deployment of “IEEE Astroways” Disc Golf Course in partnership with Kopernik Observatory and Science Center.  The AESS Binghamton Chapter created a STEM engineering camp at the observatory, called “Understanding Flying Objects”, to teach the physics of flight. They designed and installed a permanent 12-hole disc golf course at the facility for use during the STEM camp. The chapter provided all the course educational content, materials, and disc golf equipment needed for the program.  The inaugural program started in 2021, with 40 members - made up of students and teachers, participating in the full camp. A second run of the camp is planned. The first camp was at full capacity, so there is a waiting list. The Binghamton Chapter also designed a winterizing kit to enable the observatory to protect the disc golf outdoor equipment during the winter. This service project resulted in several workday outings where chapter members built the disc golf course.

The IEEE AESS Astroways Disc Golf Course is a phased development program.  Now that the basic course is provided, there are several upgrades that can be made as funding permits, such as:

1) Course signage: Course kiosk with map, hole markers, Mando and DZ signs

2) Tee boxes

3) Ruggedized baskets

4) Website improvements

5) Printed materials: Player scorecards, STEM course booklets

6) Disc golf equipment: Custom IEEE AESS discs, bags, minis, towels, water retriever

7) Custom IEEE AESS discs to promote IEEE AESS at the Kopernik Observatory

Kopernik Observatory has recognized the AESS Binghamton Chapter as a major sponsor and has partnered with us on several other events as part of this growing relationship (Drone Technology, Ham Radio, Space Photography, Electric Vehicles). The Observatory has become an excellent channel for AESS chapter outreach to the community.  The chapter receives recognition and branding in all Kopernik activities.

The student members have been increasingly engaged in activities, including a Mars Rover presentation and a robotics program. There has been a special effort to include students and encourage their participation and growth.

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Figure 1: IEEE Astroways Disc Golf Course at the Kopernik Observatory and Science Center in Vestal, NY USA. The course was designed and built by the IEEE Binghamton AESS Chapter. Red lines are golf holes 1-6. Yellow lines are golf holes 7-12. Original map photo was taken during the IEEE AESS Drone Technology Overview program at Kopernik Observatory.

The grand opening of the course was on IEEE Day in October.  The STEM camp drew local attention, and the community continues to use the disc golf course regularly.

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Figure 2: IEEE AESS STEM Camp, "Understanding Flying Objects," is now a regular event at the Kopernik Observatory.

Finally, the AESS Virtual Distinguished Lecture program was a huge enabler of the chapter's success. Since the Society completed all the arrangements, the chapter could hold events with very little effort.  The chapter used these events for coffee meetings where our members socialized and watched the virtual DL.  These became some of the best networking events.