DOT Secretary's RAISE Award Winners Reach for the Stars

Supporting the future of aviation requires us to invest in young Americans — the next generation of pilots, engineers, mechanics, and air traffic controllers. And we need those young Americans to invest their energy in a STEM education — that’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — which is critical to their ability to fill many of these jobs.

To encourage students to pursue STEM education, DOT recently hosted a national competition called the Secretary's RAISE Award, Recognizing Aviation and Aerospace Innovation in Science and Engineering. The award was recommended by the Future of Aviation Advisory Committee to develop and expand education programs geared to support the industry’s future needs. And it recognizes extraordinary students who develop innovative solutions to address real world aerospace and aviation issues.

Today, I am very excited to announce the winners of our first Secretary's RAISE Award: Miraj Rahematpura, Christopher Muckle, and Mario Chris of Xavier High School in Middletown, Connecticut. I congratulate these students for their winning idea.

Under the mentorship of Michael Humphreys, a teacher at Xavier, Chris, Miraj, and Mario spent many days during their summer vacation meticulously preparing their project using the resources of a nearby university. They designed a light-weight winglet with variable angles, built a model of it, measured the reduction in drag on the wing, and then calculated the resulting fuel savings.

As a former teacher, I know well that this kind of success doesn't happen in a vacuum. So I want to thank Mr. Humphreys for providing guidance and inspiration to Chris, Miraj, and Mario. And I want to congratulate Xavier's Principal Brendan Donohue. I know they're both proud of these students' fine work.

Their achievement can serve as a great example to leaders across the country -- in business, in government, and in education -- of how we can use STEM education to think big and solve big problems.

President Obama has said that the only way to make an economy built to last is by out-innovating, out-building, and out-educating the rest of the world. Today's award winners show that we are on the right track. I hope these young men and others like them keep reaching for the skies, and I hope their future lies in transportation.