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Coppola, Real World Design Challenge Recognized for Achievement in Aerospace Education

Dr. Ralph Coppola, Director Real World Design Challenge and Senior Director of Government and Strategic Education Programs at PTC, received the 2012 Crown Circle Award in recognition of his extraordinary effort to inspire and prepare America’s youth by creating the Real World Design Challenge. The award was presented at this year’s EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. on Tuesday, July 24.

Dr. Ralph Coppola

There is a critical need in the United States workforce in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM fields). A large percentage of the aerospace engineering workforce is eligible for retirement soon, but there are not enough young students with the resources and the enthusiasm to replace this generation.

Dr. Coppola created an educational initiative that infuses “real world” experiences, one-on-one communication with industry experts, professional tools, software donated by PTC and is free and accessible to all students in the United States. The Real World Design Challenge is a high-quality national engineering competition that allows any school to participate, regardless of economic limitations or geographic location.

In 2007, Dr. Coppola piloted his program in 10 states, creating 275 teams, ending the year with winning teams from each of the participating states competing for national honors at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. As of today, over 12,411 students in 39 states have participated in the program. The national championship teams are sponsored by the RWDC to participate in the White House Science Fair.

RWDC partners with over 55 private and federal organizations including Cessna-Textron, SpaceX, Rockwell Collins, Lockheed Martin, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Defense and NASA. RWDC has become one of the fastest growing STEM education programs, with support from the Aerospace States Association and the National Lieutenant Governors Association.

The Crown Circle Award was established in 1979, recognizing performance and outstanding leadership in aerospace education. The award is one of the highest honors available in aerospace education.

Those seeking this honor must demonstrate involvement in and commitment to aerospace education as a local, national or international leader in aerospace education. Their performance must exhibit high quality over an extended period of time. Induction may also be the result of exceptionally unique or extraordinarily outstanding achievement or contributions in aerospace education.

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