PA students take second place in national STEM competition

CCA team shines at Real World Design Challenge in Washington, D.C.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – A team of high school students from Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA) took second place in a national STEM competition, the Real World Design Challenge (RWDC), which requires students to solve engineering problems. The competition was held April 22 at the National 4-H Conference Center.

For the past seven years, CCA has won the Pennsylvania RWDC competition. A public cyber charter school, CCA has participated in the RWDC since it started nine years ago. CCA has advanced to the national competition seven times, and it has received second-place national honors three times.

“I am proud of the students,” said Ann Camp, CCA chemistry teacher and team adviser. “I know how much thought, work and dedication they put into their project. When the final standings were announced, the students were jubilant. They were all smiles.” 

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 ask questions and obtain information for its model.

“It is fantastic to watch the students take an idea and work it into a solution,” Camp said. “One of the many things that the students get out of the competition is how to work on a team and face deadlines, while getting exposure to design programs and applying their STEM education. The fact that our students were able to do the RWDC challenge shows that CCA has a commitment to STEM education.”

Camp has mentored the CCA RWDC team for all nine years of the competition. She plans to retire this year after 16 years of teaching. She has been a strong influence on female students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). 

“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.”

“Mrs. Camp is an awesome teacher who inspires all of her students,” said Chloe Ciora, a CCA student who has competed on the RWDC team for four years. “Mrs. Camp is an excellent role model for all of her students and especially her female students. 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.”  

At the RWDC national competition, 25 teams representing different states and China took part. To date, more than 20,000 students from across the U.S. have participated in the RWDC.

Team Roster:

Ashraya Ananthanarayanan - Collegeville, Pa.

Chloe Ciora - Butler, Pa.

Devin Hoffman - Hummelstown, Pa.

Joseph Patterson - Hyndman, Pa.

Kenya Mitchell - Steelton, Pa.

Nicholas Antoni - Huntingdon Valley, Pa.

Timothy Clark - Clearfield, Pa.

Ann Camp (Chemistry Teacher/Team Adviser) - Carlisle, Pa.

CONTACT: Eric Heisler

[email protected]


Posted in News Release
Tagged with rwdc, cca, stem, commonwealth charter academy, real world design challenge