Manufacturers, ag sector support Flying Tigers club
PRINCETON — The Flying Tigers engineering club at Princeton High School is busy preparing for the National Real World Design Challenge, which takes place in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, April, 21.
The club earned a spot in the national competition after taking first place at the state level.
The Real World Design Challenge is an worldwide competition that gives high school and STEM school students opportunities to work on real-life engineering problems. This year, students were tasked with designing a multipurpose drone that could be used by farmers to survey and spray crops during early infestation testing.
While this is an exciting venture for the students, it’s also an expensive one. The Flying Tigers had to raise $7,000 in three months for their traveling expenses and registration fee.
Instead of raising the money through a typical fundraiser, PHS Industrial Technology teacher Tim Ciesielski had his students put together a presentation about their project to share with area manufacturers, agribusinesses and local banks to gain interest and sponsorships for the trip.
“Because it’s an engineering club, we really wanted to focus on those companies that will benefit from these kids getting engineering degrees and coming back home to look for jobs or internships,” he said.
“We’re trying to get these kids out building relationships with these companies.”
Ciesielski said the process is comparable to what one might see on the popular television show, “Shark Tank,” where aspiring entrepreneurs make business presentations to investors to get them interested in their product.
“You have an idea, put a presentation together, pitch your idea and get money for it,” Ciesielski said.
Not only did this experience give students a taste of entrepreneurism, but it also got them more comfortable speaking about their project in front of an audience, which is exactly what they will have to do in Washington, D.C.
“Every year it gets better and better for these kids. I think it’s important that the community knows that we are doing things that are helping the manufacturing and agricultural base and not just that we’re going to school to go to college or get a job. I think that’s the big thing,” Ciesielski said.
The PHS students have been dedicated to this challenge since October. Ciesielski holds meetings with the club from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. four days a week. Plus, some of the students are also juggling sports, band and the school play in addition to the demands of the engineering club.
Ciesielski said he is proud of all the time and hard work his students have put forth for this year’s challenge.
“They deserve a little recognition for what they’re doing,” he said.
Area companies that helped to sponsor The Flying Tigers’ trip to Washington, D.C., are Allegion, Redi-Mix, TCI Manufacturing, Bureau County Farm Bureau, Pioneer, Hefty Seed, Heartland Bank & Trust, Central Bank, Advanced Asphalt, Flight Manufacturing, Michlig Energy, Cain Farms and Naffziger Farms Inc.