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updated: 3/1/2013 8:06 PM

Wheeling students ace Real World Design Challenge

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Submitted by District 214

A team of talented students from Wheeling High School won the Illinois state-level Real World Design Challenge on Jan. 18 with their design for an unmanned aircraft system.

The team partnered with mentors experienced in aviation design engineering and collaborated on solutions to conflicts in the design process. The Wheeling Wildcats team will now travel to Washington, D.C. for the national competition in April.

During the national competition, the qualifying teams will fine-tune their initial designs under new sets of specifications and parameters and offer individual team presentations of their designs before a panel of industry professionals.

The Wheeling team consists of six students, each selected to perform a specific function, based on their experience and skills. The following are the winning team members and the roles they were assigned for the project: Senior Jessica Livingston, project manager; senior Kaitlyn DeBusk, systems and test engineer; senior Christopher Olszewski, aeronautical engineer and simulation; senior Elizabeth Jassin, communications and project scientist; junior Natalie Uriostegui, engineering mathematician and junior Jose Garcia Urrutia, engineering technician. The team is coached by science teacher Lisa DelMuro.

The Real World Design Challenge is an annual competition that provides high school students the opportunity to work on realistic engineering challenges in a team environment. Government, private industry and educators come together in hopes of finding ways to keep our workforce the best in the world.

This year's challenge was to design an aircraft, then test its usefulness in a "mission scenario" involving a missing and injured child. Each team's task was to select search patterns, best altitudes and associated equipment on the ground to find the child in the least amount of time and for the lowest expenditure.

"Wheeling High School continually searches out unique avenues to make Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) education relevant to our students," said Wheeling High School Principal Lazaro Lopez. "The success of Mrs. DelMuro and her students is a reflection of our commitment for our students to apply what they learn in a real way.

"Not only does the Real World Design Challenge require students to know the science, technology, engineering and math behind their design, they also need to be able to communicate it effectively to an external audience."

For information about the Real World Design Challenge, visit

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