HomeCommunity UpdateThree Local High School Teams Awarded Prizes at 11th Annual AFRL Challenge...

Three Local High School Teams Awarded Prizes at 11th Annual AFRL Challenge Competition


— The Air Force ResearchLaboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI), in partnership with the Griffiss Institute (GI), are proud to have once again hosted the 11th Annual AFRL Challenge Competition, as one of their joint stem (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiatives, during the week of April 15 – 19, 2019, at Griffiss Institute, in Rome, New York.

The ten area high schools that participated in the 2019 Challenge were:

Central Valley Academy

Students: Dale Windecker and Carter Wynn

Teacher: Wes Laurion

Clinton Central School

Students: Jessica Ritz and Kim Rivera

Teacher: Laura Broccoli

Frankfort-Schuyler Central School

Students: Ryan Janis and John Tofani

Teacher: Christopher Snell

Holland Patent Central School

Students: Emmalee Howard and Jacqueline Mann

Teacher: Richard Zacek

Holy Cross Academy

Students: Noelle DiRuzzo and Lily Domes

Teacher: John DiRuzzo

Oriskany Central School

Students: Wesley Appler and Joshua Macera

Teacher: Teresa Mann

Remsen Central School

Students: Sydney Boucher and Shaun Graves

Teacher: Dan O’Bryan

Rome Free Academy

Students: Elena Davis and Chris Incorvaia

Teacher: Albert Bangs

Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Central School

Students: Nathan Angell and Eric Surprenant

Teacher: Sondra Whalen

Westmoreland Central School

Students: Austen Bowers and Jarrett Flint

Teacher: Nick Darrah

While all ten teams were recognized for their hard work and efforts, three teams stood out and were awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd place titles.

The winners of the 11th Annual AFRL Challenge Competition are:

1st Place: Jessica Ritz and Kim Rivera, Clinton Central School

2nd Place: Ryan Janis and John Tofani, Frankfort-Schuyler Central School

3rd Place: Wesley Appler and Joshua Macera, Oriskany Central School

Ritz and Rivera, as the first place winners, had the option to choose their prize; paid summer internships at AFRL or Griffiss Institute, or Microsoft Surface Pro’s.  They chose to intern at AFRL/RI over the summer of 2019, while Janis and Tofani chose to take home the Microsoft Surface Pro’s, and Appler and Macera will intern at the Griffiss Institute.

The Challenge Competition is an annual competitive STEM initiative for local high school students. It was held during a week when students are on a school break and its intent is to provide a more realistic view into the types of high-tech problems the nation is facing today, and how engineers and researchers go about dissecting and solving these problems. The best explanation to describe the competition is “mental marathon”.

This year’s challenge problem was developed by the Information Exploitation & Operations Division of ARFL/RI.

The teams received the challenge problem upon arrival Monday morning, and had four days to solve it. AFRL/RI engineers and scientists were on hand to answer questions regarding the challenge problem throughout the week.

The students, who participated in the competition, worked for an entire week to solve the challenge problem. Many found that it was the first time they had ever had a problem to solve that encompasses what they learn in every academic area in school, from politics to English, to math and science.

Also, for many of the participants, being able to spend a week bouncing ideas off local engineers was an incredible benefit and opportunity.

It gave many of the participants a new perspective on the field of engineering and they got to learn a more about the work that takes place at the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate, and the Griffiss Institute.

On Friday, April 19, 2019, competition judging began in the morning, followed by a poster session, luncheon at noon, and awards ceremony, where local dignitaries; Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo, Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, and Kimberly Tobin from Congressman Anthony Brindisi’s office, along with parents, friends, and staff from local tech companies, were on hand to support, congratulate, and recognize these technology leaders of tomorrow.

Colonel Timothy Lawrence, director of the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate, gave the keynote address at today’s awards ceremony, telling the students, “I’d like to hire you, maybe not today, but down the road. Keep us in mind. There’s a ton of tech here in Rome, New York.”

The judges for this year’s competition were:

  • Samuel Allen, Computer Engineer, AFRL Information Directorate
  • Jerry Dussault, Principal Engineer, Griffiss Institute
  • Dan Fayette, Principal Engineer, Griffiss Institute

This year’s AFRL Challenge Competition was made possible by the generosity of the following sponsors CUBRCMohawk Valley EDGE, and A Moveable Feast by O’Connor’s.

First Place: (L-R) Teacher, Laura Broccoli; and students, Kim Rivera and Jessica Ritz, Clinton Central School.

Second Place: (L-R) Teacher, Christopher Snell; and students, Ryan Janis and John Tofani, Frankfort-Schuyler Central School.

Third Place: (L-R) Teacher, Teresa Mann; and students, Joshua Macera and Wesley Appler, Oriskany Central School.


About Griffiss Institute

Established in 2002 by the State of New York, the Griffiss Institute is an independent 501(c)(3) entity governed by a board of directors. By partnering the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI) and its technologies with private industry and academia, the Griffiss Institute can facilitate and grow the technology base of the Upstate New York region. The institute has created a collaborative research environment accessible to AFRL/RI that provides an environment conducive to the growth of technology and ideas, while creating new business opportunities.www.griffissinstitute.org.

About AFRL STEM Outreach Program

The goal of the AFRL STEM Outreach Program is to foster a new generation of scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technologists who will one day discover, and problem solve in the nation’s defense laboratories and other supporting U.S. companies. To achieve this goal there must be a concerted effort to connect business, government foundations, institutions of higher education, professional organizations, schools, teachers and students. For additional information please visit the STEM initiatives page at www.griffissinstitute.org/AirForceSTEM

About Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate

With headquarters at Rome, NY, the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI) research vector develops novel and affordable Command, Control, Communications, Computing, Cyber, and Intelligence (C4I) technologies. RI is recognized as a national asset and leader in C4I. Refining data into information and knowledge for decision makers to command and control forces is what we do. This knowledge gives our air, space, and cyberspace forces the competitive advantage needed to protect and defend this great nation. www.wpafb.af.mil/afrl/ri


Most Popular