Commonwealth Connections Academy Team Wins First Place in Pennsylvania Real World Design Competition

Students to compete in upcoming National Competition against other state winners

Harrisburg, PA (February 22, 2011) — A team of six Commonwealth Connections Academy (CCA) high school students were awarded first place in the 2010–2011 Pennsylvania Real World Design Competition and are moving on to compete in the National Competition in April. Challenged to create an aerodynamic and energy efficient flexible aircraft wing design, CCA’s students utilized engineering software to develop the winning blueprint for the wings, deemed viable in the real world.

High school chemistry teacher and RWDC instructor, Ann Camp, was thrilled that CCA was able to enter two teams into the competition this year—the CCA Innovators and Black Hawks. Through tireless dedication and teamwork, the Innovators took first place while the Black Hawks received a close fourth.

“Participating in the RWDC will leave a lasting impact on CCA student’s academic career. My hope is that these students will use the skills and knowledge they learned from this experience to excel in math and science related fields,” said Camp.

The Innovators—Richard Ciora, Darnell Holmes, Albert Kao, Athena Kao, Riannon Maila, and Mikayla Nester—had prior experience in this competition. Working on this year’s challenge, they were able to increase their skill set and knowledge of the Pro/ENGINEER software and worked collaboratively to create their winning design. Comprised of mostly new participants, the Black Hawks—Dominique Dixon, Charles Forrest, Richard Post, Tristan Simons, Luke Stutsman, and Michael Stutsman—demonstrated excellent teamwork and learned the importance of constant communication in achieving their engineering goals.

An annual and nationally recognized program, the Real World Design Competition (RWDC) is sponsored by a public-private partnership (including partners such as Cessna Aircraft and NASA Langley Research Center) with the goal of increasing STEM education and providing students access to real world engineering experiences. This year 40 different states held “Governor’s Cup Challenges.”

“I’m very proud of the CCA students for their persistent work and excellent performance in this year’s [RWDC] challenge and would like to thank Ann Camp for all her work coaching both teams,” said Dr. Dennis Tulli, CEO of Commonwealth Connections Academy. “The challenge is another great opportunity for our students to work on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills to solve real world problems, while working as a team with classmates.”

Since the students are located across the state, teams utilized the interactive CCA LiveLessons, a virtual classroom environment, where students can type to each other, share ideas on the screen, and speak in real-time through a computer microphone. Additionally, the students communicated weekly with Camp and utilized a professional in the field to aid in troubleshooting.

The Innovators and the 40 other state-level winners will receive new project guidelines for the National Competition on February 22. Project submissions are due in late March, after which CCA students will travel to Washington D.C. to present before a panel on April 15 - 18.

Pennsylvania’s RWDC is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Pennsylvania’s Department of Education and the Pennsylvania STEM Initiative. Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC) provides the students with free access to the Pro/ENGINEER software.

About Connections Academy
Connections Academy is a leading, fully accredited provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual schooling for students in grades K through 12. Through tuition-free public schools, full-time and part-time private school programs, and turnkey online programs for bricks and mortar schools, Connections Academy delivers superior, personalized education for students, with the freedom and flexibility to experience our online learning community from anywhere. The combination of certified teachers, a proven curriculum, technology tools, and community experiences creates a supportive and successful online learning opportunity for families and children who want an individualized approach to education. In the 2010–11 school year, Connections Academy will serve students in Arizona, California (Southern and Central), Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming through its public school programs. It serves students worldwide through the online private school, National Connections Academy. Connections Academy offers grades K through 12, though some public school programs do not offer all grades. For more information, call 800-382-6010 or visit