Students heading to national design challenge finals

April 17, 2012

State and local officials, joined by AOPA, gave a Massachusetts high school team a proud sendoff on their way to a national aeronautical design competition held April 20 through 23 in Washington, D.C.

“Team Pizazz” of Marlborough High School was chosen to join a field of finalists from 39 states and U.S. territories vying for top honors in the Real World Design Challenge. The program, founded in 2008, presents students with an aeronautical challenge, and equips them with a package of sophisticated software worth $1 million to use in the competition. Across the country, aviation professionals have stepped up to help out—including Marlboro Airport manager Bob Stetson (the airport goes by an alternate spelling that is common in the area). Stetson learned of the program four years ago, and pitched it to local educators and students, who embraced the challenge with enthusiasm. Stetson supplied research, advice, and aviation industry contacts.

“It is perfect for young minds because they have no problem thinking outside the box – they are innovative,” Stetson told the Main Street Journal .

This year, teams designed a light sport aircraft able to fly two people 200 miles at 1,000 feet agl (or more), using green technology wherever possible.

AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Craig Dotlo joined the chorus of congratulation for the students, who each received a certificate from AOPA honoring their achievement. Dotlo also recognized Stetson’s avid support of general aviation in the region, along with his efforts to mentor the local team.

Jim Moore

Jim Moore | Online Associate Editor, AOPA

AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.