High school academic stars celebrated by Fairfield University's School of Engineering and Sikorsky Aircraft

As fewer young Americans seek careers in math and science, Fairfield University's School of Engineering and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. have teamed up to encourage kids to pursue those paths.

Image: Sikorsky award winners

Nominated by their respective principals and teachers, 30 juniors from public, private and Catholic high schools in Fairfield and New Haven counties were singled out for their academic achievements. "We hope that in someway we encourage you to pursue studying engineering, technology and mathematics in college," said Jack Beal, Ph.D., dean of Fairfield's School of Engineering, which organized the 15th Annual Excellence in Mathematics and Science Awards, held this week on the Fairfield campus.

The honorees this year featured a large group of young women who mingled with the growing ranks of female Fairfield faculty in the sciences, including Shelley Phelan, Ph.D., professor of biology, and Amalia Rusu, Ph.D., assistant professor of software engineering.

Many students professed an interest in pursuing careers in technology and engineering, noting a family member or teacher had inspired them to do so. For Clark Shurtleff, 16, an Amity Regional Senior High School student, a commitment to the sciences is in his genes. "In my family, we have an engineer, a nuclear physicist, a software engineer and my sister is a chemistry major," he said. "I want to be an engineer, because there are a lot of opportunities now and cool stuff going on. A great teacher can show you the practical applications."

Lauren Loomer '09, described her days at Fairfield as a double major in mechanical engineering and math, complete with internship in the helicopter blades department at Sikorsky "I remember being a freshman and finding my friend's engineering textbooks really interesting," recalled the San Diego, California native, now a Sikorsky Aircraft engineer. "I became fascinated by all there was to learn."

Susan Hitchcock, manager of communications for Sikorsky Aircraft, told students of the fulfilling careers that await budding engineers. "Follow your passion and it will drive you," she urged them.  

Recipients attend the following high schools: Fairfield Ludlowe High School, Fairfield College Preparatory School, Fairfield Warde High School, Amity Regional Senior High School, Ansonia High School, Bassick High School, Bethel High School, Bunnell High School, Central Magnet High School, Common Ground, Darien High School, Greenwich High School, Harding High School, Henry Abbott, Immaculate High School, Joseph A. Foran High School, Kolbe-Cathedral High School, Lauralton Hall, Newtown High School, Notre Dame High School, Platt Voc. Tech., Seymour High School, Shelton High School, St. Joseph High School, Staples High School, Stratford High School, Trinity Catholic High School, Trumbull High School, Westhill High School, and Weston High School.

Image: Fairfield University's School of Engineering and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. recognized 30 high school juniors for their commitment to the study of math and science. The students are joined by Dr. Jack Beal, left, dean of Fairfield's School of Engineering, and Susan Hitchcock, manager of communications for Sikorsky Aircraft, right.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on June 13, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 322