Central Florida high schools combine forces, compete in national engineering challenge

By Julie Broughton - Anchor

News 6 first introduced teacher John Raulerson in March of 2018, when he won the News 6  Getting Results Award for his work with his design and engineering team at Oak Ridge High School.

Now, Raulerson is at Leesburg High School, and his team just won another Real World Design Challenge. The team is prepping for the national competition in Washington, D.C., in April.
 
"They want to do it," Raulerson said of the students. "They want to get to a higher level, and I'm so happy to be the pied piper of something like that. I've already written recommendations for students for Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins."
 
This is the first year Raulerson has coached a combined team with students from Leesburg, Lake Minneola and Oak Ridge High Schools. The Real World Design Challenge allows high school students to work on real-world engineering challenges in a team environment. Each student on the winning team receives a $50,000 scholarship to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Raulerson said a win like this helps students get into a college of their choice.
 
"It separates you from the rest of the pack. When you say you went to Washington D.C., to compete for a national title in STEM, it opens their minds. They say, 'OK, I want this person,'" Raulerson said.
 
The team compiled a detailed, 80-page notebook they'll present during the competition.
 
"We had to build an aircraft and aircraft system, and we're flying in New York City," he said.
 
The purpose of the aircraft and system, Raulerson said, is to survey vegetation that can cut down on pollution as well as help farmers. He said the team works on the project in a Google classroom nightly.
 
Raulerson's teams have won every state championship since 2012. Posters of previous winners decorate his classroom as inspiration.
 
"You are somebody. Even though you may not be the richest person, you can still do it," Raulerson said.
 
The team still needs sponsorships for their trip to the national competition. If you'd like to contribute, visit their GoFundMe page here.

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