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Brentwood's Noctis racing team makes final push for trip

| Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 8:15 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
One of the Brentwood High School team's Formula 1 cars photographed Tuesday, July 21, 2015. The team, consisting of recent graduates Adam Myers and Brett Wilson and seniors Luke O'Shea, Nicole Zdrojewski and Caroline Keane, will be traveling to Singapore in September for the F1 in Schools World Finals.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Recent Brentwood High School graduate Adam Myers sets up for a demonstration run of his team's Formula 1 cars in the school Tuesday, July 21, 2015. The team, consisting of Myers and felloe recent grad Brett Wilson and seniors Luke O'Shea, Nicole Zdrojewski and Caroline Keane, will be traveling to Singapore in September for the F1 in Schools World Finals.

Their flights are booked and tickets are purchased.

Now, a group of five Brentwood students and graduates just need to finish their car and marketing plan — along with raising a little more money — and they'll be on their way to the F1 in Schools' World Finals competition in Singapore in mid-September.

“We're not just going to Singapore to go to Singapore. We're going to Singapore to compete,” Brentwood High School communications teacher Jennifer Hughes told school board members at their July meeting.

Brentwood High School's first team ever to travel overseas to be in an international competition has been working fervently since finishing in the top three U.S. teams in the national competition in mid-May to raise money for the trip, along with designing a new car — made of composite wood instead of the traditional balsa wood, drafting a new marketing plan, and updating their presentation and “pit stop,” to meet the standards for the international competition.

The school's Noctis racing team — Adam Myers, Brett Wilson, Luke O'Shea, Nicole Zdrojewski and Caroline Keane — built a miniature car made of balsa wood and powered by a CO2 cartridge that soared down a 20-meter track in 1.07 seconds at the national competition, where they finished in the top three.

“I'm just excited for the fact that I was given this opportunity in high school to do something that's pretty meaningful,” said Myers, 18, who graduated from Brentwood in June and will be a freshman at Penn State Greater Allegheny in McKeesport this fall, with a major in mechanical engineering.

So far, in the last two and half months, the Noctis racing team has raised $32,000 through fundraisers, online pleas and business contributions, said Keane, the team communication manager and a Brentwood senior. The team received $22,045 in contributions from 31 donors, including six large-scale businesses.

PNC Charitable Trust gave the most, with a $7,500 grant.

“We just sent out letters constantly looking for grants,” Keane said.

The students, dressed in their Noctis team uniforms, met with business leaders across the area pleading their case. They focused on Pittsburgh-based businesses.

Brentwood businesses and groups stepped up, with the Brentwood Business Owners Association giving the team $1,100 and members of the Brentwood Hall of Fame rallying around the students with numerous donations totaling nearly $4,000.

A GoFundMe page raised $6,300 for the trip.

Hughes said she had her doubts at first about whether the team would be able to raise the money.

“I knew it would be hard,” she said.

The team still needs between $2,000 and $3,000 to for the students' meals and expenses on the trip, Brentwood engineering teacher Beau Sedlar said.

Many of the requirements for the competition have changed for the international level. Other changes, such as reworking the “pit display,” must be made so the equipment can be shipped oversees.

“It's changed how we designed the car,” said Wilson, 19, who graduated from Brentwood in June. He will be a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland this fall with a major in engineering.

The design of the car is faster, Sedlar said.

The point of the competition is having students with different interests work together on the science, technology, engineering, arts and math — or STEAM — project, Sedlar said.

The students, while working together, also are getting a real-life education and getting to explore the world.

They've already studied the laws in Singapore and know about the restrictions on chewing gum. While there, they also will get to tour the region.

During a 16-hour layover in China, the students also will take a tour of Beijing.

The 18-hour direct flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to Beijing will be a first itself for the students.

Team members said they can't wait for the sightseeing and tours of the other countries. But they're also excited about the competition, they said.

“I have no doubt that we'll do well,” Myers said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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