Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. launched its 2015 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Challenge at the Chester Airport on Friday. The school year-long competition affords Connecticut high school students an opportunity to be mentored by Sikorsky engineers as the students work to solve an engineering design problem. The experience requires students to apply their creative thinking and in-class education to the types of technical problems faced in an actual engineering workplace.
The fifth annual competition, which runs from October 9 to May 21, is co-sponsored by Sikorsky Aircraft and Connecticut Corsair, a volunteer organization dedicated to the promotion of education and Connecticut businesses. This year, through the use of models, students from eight high schools in Fairfield and New Haven counties will be challenged to design a hoist apparatus to recover a downed Corsair aircraft in a scenario in which the aircraft is at risk of drifting out to sea or sinking.
“We created the Sikorsky STEM Challenge to reinvigorate interest in engineering,” said Bill Harris, Sikorsky Technical Fellow, Manufacturing Technology. “Applying engineering tools to solve a real world problem in a competitive environment provides students a unique and exciting introduction to this field. We have no doubt that future engineers will be born from the experience of the Sikorsky STEM Challenge.”
Gazment Sosoli, a senior at the University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering, is one such future engineer. A 2010-2011 participant in the Sikorsky STEM Challenge, he says he benefited greatly from the experience.
“I was thinking of going into pre-pharmacy. But after going through my high school’s engineering class, I kind of started to like engineering a lot and my teacher said there was a great opportunity to solve a real world engineering problem through the Sikorsky STEM Challenge,” he said. “After going through the whole experience with the challenge of solving a problem, working with a team of people to get things done and going to Sikorsky and seeing what they had to offer, it gave me a different perspective and changed my focus. I decided to study engineering.”
Sikorsky mentors and 100 students attended the kick-off, which featured the surprise landing of a BLACK HAWK helicopter, perhaps the most iconic example of Sikorsky engineering. During the event, students competed in team building exercises with their mentors, made team presentations on actual Corsair helicopter rescues and enjoyed a walk around of a 1,032 pound kit built Van’s Aircraft RV-4 owned by Sikorsky’s David Peters, who told students about his 12- year experience building the aircraft with his father.
The Sikorsky STEM Challenge supports both Connecticut and national STEM goals, and each year, Sikorsky mentors and local high schools teams are eager to participate.