Lauralton's Wright Sisters win STEM Challenge

Lauralton Hall’s engineering team, “The Wright Sisters,” rose to the challenge and won the annual Sikorsky STEM Challenge.

Lauralton Hall was the only all-girls school of the eight Connecticut high schools chosen to participate in this year-long competition to design a repair connection for a broken aileron linkage on an F4U4-Corsair plane.

The Sikorsky STEM Challenge, now in its sixth year, provides high schools students with the opportunity to partner with an engineering mentor from Sikorsky and solve an engineering design challenge by applying the lessons of the classroom to real-world technical problems.  Sikorsky is a Lockheed Martin company.

The competition kicked off in October at the CT Corsair Hangar at the Chester Airport. The students were required to meet objectives throughout the year with video submissions and reports. The Lauralton team’s fly-by-wire electro mechanical control system for the Corsair’s Aileron was chosen as the winning project.

For the first phase of the program, teams were required to put together a research presentation, a project plan including storyboards, a trade study and diagrams. In addition, there was a challenge worth 50% of the team’s final score. At the end of this phase, eight teams were narrowed to five.

Next, the teams presented to Sikorsky engineers on April 24, at which point Lauralton Hall was named among the top three teams.

For the final phase, the top three teams presented on May 20 at the CT Expo in Wallingford where Lauralton was named the winner.

“The learning curve was challenging but rewarding,” said team captain and Lauralton Hall senior Madelyn Monahan. “We had to work together to solve technical problems faced in an actual engineering workplace. We are thrilled and honored to have won.”

The team of 18 students included:

  • Seniors Rachelle Ambroise (Stratford), Leila Casaccio (Stamford), Jillian Cass (Fairfield),  Olivia D’Andrea (Milford),  Alison Haynes (Shelton),  Madelyn Monahan (Fairfield), Michaela O’Donnell  (Southport) and Yashaswini Soleti (Milford)

  • Juniors Kailyn Ball (Milford), Ann Frances Fox  (Fairfield),  Kristin Franco (Darien),

Juliana Gonzalez  (Stamford),  Grace Jensen  (Shelton) and  Grace Murray  (Redding)

  • Sophomores Julia Arsenault (Rowayton), Leah Cogguillo (Milford), Isabella Secchiaroli (Milford) and Rory Woods (Milford)

Lauralton Hall alumna Ashley Currivan, an engineer at Sikorsky Aircraft, served as the team‘s mentor. “This is an amazing group of young women,” Currivan said. “The quality of their papers, presentations and storyboards rivaled the work required for college design courses. They dedicated many hours outside of class working on the challenges and it paid off.”

The team also was advised by Lauralton Hall faculty Theresa Napolitano and Danielle Kratter.

“This experience provided students with real-world knowledge of what an engineer does on a daily basis,” said Napolitano. “They succeeded because they embraced creative thinking, project management, collaboration and leadership – all skills they will bring with them to the 21st century workplace. We are very proud of our team members and all they have accomplished this year.”