Inside Our Schools: The future — Preparing our youth

I think about our duty, as adults, to prepare our youth for the future.

I think about it a lot.

Technology is not everything, of course. It is, however, a fundamental aspect of our lives today and will define more of how we and our children and grandchildren will communicate, create wealth, wage war, defend ourselves, grow food, improve healthcare, solve problems, and learn.

In the Shelton public schools we recognize the role of technology in the lives of our students.

In addition to moving towards a one-to-one model of providing each child with a basic computer and our expanding innovative practices, we now offer interested middle and high school students a challenging set of programs called Milestone C.

It is the brainchild of co-founders Cemocan Yesil and David Conelias. They met at Sikorsky, where they worked as engineers. Before that Yesil had served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, flying missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and later earning a degree from M.I.T. Conelias studied math and economics as an undergraduate and later an M.S. from Fairfield before joining Sikorsky as an electrical design engineer.

The school district partnered with Milestone in 2017 as a pilot summer camp experience for students, building drones. The students built, programmed and flew the drones as part of a design framework. The partnership has grown.

Yesil and Conelias also serve as curriculum advisors for the aviation course offered at SHS by James Goddard, a physics teacher who is also a pilot. Milestone C wrote the curriculum.

“The students in our aviation course are very excited to be a part of it. Recently they had an opportunity to fly out of an airport nearby in a small plane,” said Dr. Beth Smith, principal of Shelton High School.

Yesil said, “Overall, our goal is to help schools to better understand STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) challenges and opportunities.

“And to help students to see the connections between college programs they may select and industry needs,” Conelias added.

They have organized an internship-styles experience, simulating an industry standard career progression with a focus on industrial design — where art and engineering meet.

So far more than 50 Shelton students have participated.

"It’s a cool and great program about the physics and dynamics of airplanes. They also teach you how to build, program and fly drones. Loved it,” said student Tyler Hudson.

Another student, Pranav Nair, said, “We learned the basics of aerodynamics and how to deliver a product to a client within a specific timeframe and with a set of engineering requirements. We developed presentations in the end and demonstrated our product to the client. The future is all about technology, right? Advancing technology is what this programs is about. This program gave me experience with applied engineering and I really had fun in the activities we got to do in Milestone C.”

Pranav’s father added, “I see a tremendous improvement in Pranav’s day-to-day activities. He learned new skills in applied engineering, presentations, teamwork, and I’m sure that this will help him in his (college) career forward.”

Milestone C also works with other schools, as well, including St. Joseph, Fairfield Prep and Amity.

We are pleased they are working closely with us in Shelton. They are a key partner and part of our work to prepare our students for the future.

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