R-MA Team Advances to Finals of Global Product Challenge

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For the second consecutive year, a team from Randolph-Macon Academy has made it into the finals of the Spirit of Innovation Challenge Summit.

Officials with the Conrad Foundation announced the names of 20 high school teams from across the U.S., Singapore and China to compete in the final round of the 2012-2013 Spirit of Innovation Challenge. The annual competition, presented by Lockheed Martin and Battelle, challenges teams of students ages 13-18 from around the world to combine innovation and entrepreneurship along with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to create commercially-viable products to benefit humanity.

The R-MA team advancing to the finals is “The Greeners,” which is competing in the Energy & Environment category against four other teams. "The Greeners" members are Jon Moore of Glenwood, MD; Maddie Chafin of Wake Forest, NC; Grace Alexander of Front Royal, VA; Edwin Guyette of West Chesterfield, NH; and Benjamin Gillis of Front Royal, VA.  All five team members are juniors at the Academy. Dave Gillis, the physics and engineering teacher at Randolph-Macon Academy, is the team coach.

“The idea,” Gillis said of the team’s concept, “without releasing too many trade secrets, is to generate electricity from bicycle locomotion…and share it to the grid.” 

Finalist teams will present their product concepts at the Innovation Summit, April 10 - 13, to a panel of industry experts, leading entrepreneurs, government officials and world-renowned scientists at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. Products will be evaluated for technical content and marketplace viability.

Prior to the Summit, from March 18 to March 29, the public will have the opportunity to select the People's Choice Award winner by viewing finalist team videos and voting on their favorite innovative product. To review each team and their projects, visit http://www.conradawards.org/groups.

“This program adds context to content and creates an opportunity for students to understand design and innovative thinking skills,” Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation, said in a press release from the foundation. “These students represent the best of what can happen when students are given an opportunity to design their future.  The practical knowledge, leadership and teamwork skills they are developing will serve them well as they become the innovative workforce of the 21st Century.”

This year's competition challenged students to develop new ideas in the areas of Aerospace & Aviation, Cybertechnology & Security, Energy & Environment, and Health & Nutrition. The winning team selected in each category will be recognized as Pete Conrad Scholars and receive a Next Step Grant of $10,000 to continue product development.

Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA), founded in 1892, is a college-preparatory, coeducational day and boarding school for students in grades 6 through 12.  Students in grades 9-12 participate in R-MA’s 91st Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) and have the option to participate in a unique flight program. R-MA is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is located in Front Royal, VA.

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-From a release from the Conrad Foundation.