MATRIX Lab Research Spotlight: Trevon Jefferson

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Apprentice Trevon Jefferson holds aircraft project with MATRIX Lab Manager Joe Copenhaver. Click to expand.

The University of Maryland Clark School MATRIX Lab’s first high school apprentice is putting his engineering skills to the test.

Trevon Jefferson is a student at Leonardtown High School and the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center.

He is working on an autonomous fixed wing 3D printed aircraft with MATRIX Lab Manager Joe Copenhaver. He said he’s been able to build on the knowledge he gained from the Tech Center.

“It’s been fun,” Jefferson said. “I’ve gotten to learn a lot of things, from basic math equations to working machinery to building stuff.”

Project goals included increasing the speed of assembling such aircraft, learning if the autonomous fixed wing improved its flying, and finding out how new software could improve it. The official end goal is to get the aircraft to fly, but Jefferson said after that point he could still work on it.

“There is an end point, but at the same time you could probably continuously make it better as time goes on. Improve the components on the inside and improve the type of filament you use too,” Jefferson said.

It’s taught him a lot about project workflows.

“I had to figure out where everything goes and how it’s set up, so I had to do a lot of research. I ran into many obstacles, so Joe and I sat down and did more research, came up with a plan, and executed that plan,” Jefferson said. “Having a mentor has made things less stressful. Joe walks me through it which helps out a lot.”

He learned how to use the computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine and the water jet cutter. He’s also worked on skills related to mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering.

“Putting it together with all the components inside I had to solder the flight controller board and hook up different pins to the flight controller to be able to get everything to work. With the coding, I had to use the flight controller to manually set up and go through everything to try to get everything to communicate like the wings to get them to move,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson graduates in May 2024. He plans to attend the College of Southern Maryland for two years then transfer to the University of Maryland. He said he wants to major in mechanical engineering and focus on getting good grades.

About the high school apprenticeship program

The Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center works with companies including the Patuxent Partnership (TPP) and Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) on the Tech Jobs Rule apprenticeship program, which helps connect students like Jefferson with facilities like the MATRIX Lab.

Published May 10, 2024