They thought they were walking into a classroom, but it turned out to be a secret lab.
“Seeing all the tech we got today, the models and everything, it’s a nice thing to see, to imagine how we’re going to be using it,” said Central High School sophomore Alex Vicente.
The aerospace company arranged what’s called a “classroom takeover” at Bridgeport’s Central High School. They changed the whole learning experience to encourage students to study science and engineering.
“Sikorsky reached out to us, and we were really super willing just because of how near they are to the high school, and the ability to show the kids that there is life outside of Central,” said science teacher Alex Torres. “The thing that they learn here could turn into a real job.”
Folks with real jobs at Sikorsky were helping out. Mike Ambrose went to Central High. He was a track star, and thought that was a career, until he talked to a guidance counselor.
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“What are you going to do?” And I said, ‘I’m going to be a runner.’ He said, ‘You’re not going to make any money from that, what else are you good at?'” recalled Ambrose.
The answer was art and math, which paved the way to MIT. Ambrose is now Sikorsky’s vice president of engineering and is responsible for all engineering operations at Sikorsky.
Sikorsky program manager Miguel Lopez is graduated from Central High in 2005.
“Today, what we’ll have our students work on is actually building a 3-D model of an aircraft whose purpose is to fly into an humanitarian crisis,” Lopez explained.
That is just the kind of engineering problem solving Sikorsky wants in future employees.
“When you look at the needs we have across STEM-related fields, we need hundreds of thousands,” Ambrose said. “At Sikorsky Aircraft, we like to look in our backyard. We know that when we do that, they tend to stay more.”
“STEM” stands for science technology engineering and math. That is what Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin want to encourage. One last surprise for students at Central – that classroom is getting a 3-D printer as well.