Collins Aerospace Mentors St Louis to Success

ST Louis Grammar School in Kilkeel has made history by becoming the first ever school from Northern Ireland to win the Raytheon Technologies Quadcopter Challenge.

The competition, which is designed to encourage students to take up STEM related subjects and pursue a career in STEM, concluded on Thursday 8th December at the Royal Air Force College in Cranwell following a nail-biting final.

The winning team from St Louis, Pollution Solution, consisting of Kacper Noeswicz, Ross Sloan, Daniel Cunningham and Hannah Murney, was mentored through the competition by STEM Ambassadors from Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel. Collins Aerospace is a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corporation, which is a leader in technologically advanced and intelligent solutions for the global aerospace and defence industry.

The students had to consider the environment as they designed and built their quadcopters, from the materials they incorporated to the machine’s planet-saving purpose.

In the months leading up to the final, the team designed and built a quadcopter that monitors plastic pollution by attaching Co2 sensors and a thermal camera to the device, citing that by living next to the sea they see it as being one of the main causes of environmental damage in their area. The aim of their quadcopter is to reduce air pollution, which aligns with the Sustainability theme of this year’s competition.

Hannah Murney, student at St Louis Grammar School and member of the winning team, said, “It feels really unbelievable, we’re so shocked. We’ve been doing this for so long and it’s just such an achievement to be standing here. I wasn’t necessarily interested in technology and engineering for STEM, but as I started this, I’ve seen many opportunities and see all the career paths that are available to me.”

Principal of St Louis Grammar School, Kevin Martin, said, “We are so delighted to have won the competition and we can’t believe that out of 92 teams that competed nationwide, we were crowned champions – becoming the first school from Northern Ireland to do so! Our pupils devoted a great deal of time and effort perfecting their Quadcopter, preparing their presentation and test flying and all their hard work has paid off. On behalf of Kacper Noeswicz, Ross Sloan, Daniel Cunningham and Hannah Murney and we, their teachers, we thank all the mentors from the Raytheon Technologies STEM Ambassador program.”

Andrew Gibbons, Composites Research and Development at Collins Aerospace, and lead of the STEM Council Quadcopter team spoke about St Louis success saying, “We are so thrilled with St Louis success at this year’s Raytheon Technologies Quadcopter Challenge! The whole team was outstanding throughout the competition, and they are well deserved winners. We’re extremely proud to have mentored the students throughout the competition, especially given that this is the first year of our dedicated STEM council in Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel.”

The Judging panel for the competition consisted of Air Commodore Andrew Dickens, Commandant Royal Air Force College Cranwell, Pam Robertshaw, Head of Performance Excellence at Raytheon UK, Sajeda Afzal, Value Stream Leader at Collins Aerospace, Ross Tarnowski, Head of Learning and Skills for Engineering and Technology at Lincoln College, Maggie Appleton, CEO of RAF Museum and Milly Francis-Owen, Aircraft Apprentice at Raytheon UK.

Air Commodore Andrew Dickens, Commandant Royal Air Force College Cranwell spoke about the competition’s success saying, “I was delighted to be on the judging panel for the national final of the Raytheon Quadcopter Challenge. Supporting events like this that inspire future generations of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers is at the heart of what the Royal Air Force Youth and STEM seek to achieve.”

Since it began seven years ago, the quadcopter challenge has continued to expand. This year saw the challenge reach all four nations of the United Kingdom with over 92 teams, 41 schools and Air Cadet groups and 500 students taking part.