Future Engineers Take on the Real World Design Challenge at the Pratt & Whitney Hangar

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Could you design an unmanned aerial vehicle to help farmers manage their crops and increase yield to feed the world's growing population? That's a daunting task for any team of engineers and entrepreneurs, but teams of high schoolers were ready to present solutions at Connecticut's Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) held at the Pratt & Whitney Hangar.

Pratt & Whitney has been a corporate sponsor of the Real World Design Challenge since 2012. Pratt & Whitney employees have since served as mentors to the Connecticut-based teams, coaching them to conceptualize, design and present their projects.

This year, the Pratt & Whitney Hangar became the venue for Connecticut's Real World Design Challenge events. The competition began in October, when students were invited to the hangar to learn about this year's challenge and meet their mentors. Students also got to see some of Pratt & Whitney's legacy engines and learn more about what the company does. In January, teams from Xavier High School, Engineering & Science University Magnet School and A.I. Prince Technical High School returned to the hangar to present their solutions to a panel of Pratt & Whitney judges.

Andy Burdick, project manager, Hot Section Engineering, has been a mentor to Real World Design Challenge teams, and this year helped organized the event at the Pratt & Whitney Hangar along with Fran Figueroa-Rodriguez, principal engineer, Cold Section Engineering Mechanical Systems.

"The part I most enjoy is seeing how much these young students can get done — they come up with very complex designs in a short amount of time," said Burdick.

Xavier High School's team won this year's challenge and will go on to nationals to compete against top teams from around the world. However, it is not competition that drives the Xavier team but the spirit of engineering and creativity.

"What I like most about the competition is watching the presentations from other schools. It is so interesting to see how everyone interprets the challenge differently, and how this leads to really cool designs," said Noah McGuinness, a member of the Xavier High School team.

Click here to learn more about the Real World Design Challenge.