CCA team hopes to give Real World Design Challenge adviser memorable finale
CCA chemistry teacher Ann Camp is retiring after 16 years of teaching and a successful nine-year run as adviser of the Real World Design Challenge team.
Inspirational. Supportive. Role model. All-around awesome person.
These are just some of the words that Commonwealth Charter Academy students use to describe Ann Camp, a CCA chemistry teacher and the Real World Design Challenge team adviser.
At the end of the school year, Camp will retire from CCA after 16 years.
Nine years ago CCA asked Camp to be the RWDC adviser, and she has held the role ever since. She has mentored the RWDC team for all nine years of the competition, and for the seventh consecutive year she has proudly watched her students win the state competition and vie for the national title. They have finished second at nationals twice.
Camp has been a strong influence on all of her students and specifically her female students interested in STEM-related careers. One of them is Chloe Ciora, a senior who has been a CCA student since the third grade and an integral member of the RWDC team for the past four years.
“Mrs. Camp is an awesome teacher who inspires all of her students,” Chloe said. “I always knew I excelled in math and science, but Mrs. Camp took those skills and challenged me throughout my CCA high school education. She gave me the extra confidence and the tools I needed to pursue a career in a STEM-related field, which is what I plan to do when I graduate in May.”
In the fall, Chloe will attend the University of Pittsburgh on a chancellor scholarship, which is one of the university’s most prestigious awards. She plans to major in computer science, and she will use many of the “real-world” skills she has learned while working on the RWDC team.
“The number of female students participating on the team has risen,” Camp said. “When we started nine years ago, there was only one female student on the team. Now, half the team is female. Six of those years, the team lead was a female student, including this year’s team lead.”
This year’s lead is Ashraya Ananthanarayanan of Montgomery County, who is a published author, beauty pageant winner, airplane pilot-in-training, Mensa member, golfer, competitive dancer, piano performer and app developer.
“The Real World Design Challenge is an opportunity for students to establish their interest in STEM and develop it through the design process we would see in engineering teams worldwide today,” Ashie said.
“Within our own RWDC group, we have such a diverse group. It brings different perspectives to the group.”
As more girls have the opportunity to be part of STEM-related activities such as RWDC and have dedicated teachers like Camp on their side, the greater their potential becomes when they enter the real world.
The annual RWDC competition provides high school students the opportunity to work on real-world engineering challenges in a team environment. The teams must address a challenge that confronts the United States’ leading industries while using engineering software to develop their solutions.
This year’s competition focused on the agricultural industry and the need to design an unmanned aircraft system that could be used as a multipurpose tool for a farmer. To develop its design, the CCA team reached out to Pennsylvania mushroom grower Giorgio Foods to obtain information for its model.
The team departs April 21 for the RWDC national competition in Washington, D.C. There will be 25 teams represented from different states, as well as from China.
This year’s RWDC team members are Ashraya Ananthanarayanan of Montgomery County, Chloe Ciora of Butler County, Devin Hoffman of Dauphin County, Joseph Patterson of Bedford County, Nicholas Antoni of Montgomery County, Kenya Mitchell of Dauphin County and Timothy Clark of Clearfield County.