Helicopter challenge to be held in Conn.

STRATFORD, Conn. – Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsid­iary of United Technologies Corp., has launched the fifth annual Sikorsky Helicopter 2050 Program and Chal­lenge, which asks children ages 9-16 to create an eco-friendly helicopter of the fu­ture that addresses potential challenges of 2050.

The national competition will run until Oct. 15.

The winner will receive the Igor Sikorsky Youth In­novator Award and a $1,000 scholarship. In addition, the young innovator will be flown to Sikorsky’s head­quarters in Stratford to tour the assembly lines of the iconic Black Hawk and Se­ahawk military helicopters and meet with Sikorsky ro­torcraft engineers.

"Our goal is to challenge kids to think about the fu­ture and how they can use their science and math skills to make a positive change in the world," said Judith Bankowski, vice president and chief information officer of Sikorsky Aircraft.

"We understand how im­portant it is to develop stu­dents’ skills and confidence in these subjects and to give kids of all backgrounds an opportunity to see them­selves as future engineers, technologists and scientists."

The challenge is a part of Sikorsky’s commitment to encouraging students’ hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program also gives the corporation an opportunity to develop long-term relationships with tomorrow’s engineers.

Last year’s winner, Hana Bidon, 16, of West Haven, designed the Skylift Res­cue 968 by mimicking the bone structure of birds to develop a lighter and more aerodynamic helicopter. The main body of the aircraft is made out of recycled fiber-composite materials, which use 3-D vascular networks to self-heal. As a result, this he­licopter repairs cracks with the aid of a technician.

Sikorsky co-sponsors the challenge with By Kids For Kids, a Connecticut-based organization whose educa­tional content inspires kids to become successful inven­tors. The challenge honors Sikorsky Aircraft founder Igor Sikorsky, who, in 1939, led an engineering team that developed a vertical lift ma­chine with a core design that is still used in a majority of helicopters.

Schools, museums and camps throughout the coun­try can use the fun, hands-on activities to help students imagine the environmental future and challenges of he­licopters. Teachers, program facilitators, parents and mu­seum staff can sign up at helicopter2050.com to download free program materials. For more infor­mation, visit the website at http://www.helicopter2050. com/.