Media advisory: Some 80 high schoolers launch self-designed gliders in competition today at Washington University

WHAT: Student-designed hand-launched gliders will soar across WUSTL’s Field House in the Boeing Engineering Challenge today to determine which has the farthest flight, the straightest path, the longest hang time, and highest quality of flight. Planes with the most creative appearance and most creative engineering also are recognized. High school students create the planes out of balsa wood with consultation from engineers with The Boeing Company. In the process, they learn important concepts in physics and aerospace engineering.

WHO: About 80 high school students and their physics teachers from Clayton, Eureka, Fort Zumwalt, Hazelwood, Marquette and Parkway school districts, as well as WUSTL undergraduate Boeing Scholars and some 17 Boeing engineers who mentored the students.

WHERE: Washington University Field House, Athletic Complex, Forsyth and Big Bend. Parking is available on the top level of Snow Way Garage, which is near Big Bend Boulevard and Forest Park Parkway. Take Forest Park Parkway and turn south onto Throop Drive, then turn right at the “T” intersection onto Snow Way and the garage is on the left. Once on the top level, park near the southwest side of the garage and follow the sidewalk to the Athletic Complex.

WHEN: 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, May 4, 2012

MORE: Besides learning career skills in aerospace engineering, each winning design will receive a medal. Boeing is a longtime supporter of K-12 education initiatives at WUSTL, including teacher graduate programs through WUSTL’s Institute for School Partnership. Boeing also contributes to WUSTL’s annual fund, its scholarship programs and its building fund.

The students visited Boeing in November and received the specifications and materials for their hand-held gliders. There are 24 teams competing and each team was assigned a Boeing engineer to serve as a mentor.

Tom Brandt, a Boeing engineer who serves as a mentor to students at area high schools, says that he and the other Boeing mentors work with the students to help them put the gliders together from the time they get their build kits in November, all the way through the final flight challenge at Washington University.

“Over time you see these students overcoming engineering challenges and applying principles of mathematics and physics that they would typically just study about in a textbook,” Brandt says. “It is very inspiring to see how quickly they grasp the situations and work with their teams to figure out solutions. Programs like the Engineering Challenge align with Boeing’s emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math education and developing the workforce of the future,” he adds.

The students also visited Boeing in March to learn about engineering and Boeing and hear from Washington University students about college life and engineering.

Boeing sponsors the competition with support from Washington University’s Alumni & Development Office, the Institute for School Partnership and the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

On-site contact: Chris Mohr, program coordinator at Washington University’s Institute for School Partnership, at (314) 791-1083, or CJ Jayaweera, Regional Communications, Midwest, The Boeing Company, at (314) 452-1468.