Fort Cherry students to compete in international competition
Connor Ehrgood and Emily Richard, 17-year-old juniors at Fort Cherry High School, don’t have their driver’s licenses yet.They haven’t found time to get behind the wheel because the pair is too busy competing in, and winning, STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) competitions using their invention, a communication device called the SticKey, which helps people with motor disabilities type using a joystick and a screen.Most recently, Ehrgood and Richard were among four students selected to represent the Pittsburgh region at Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in Los Angeles from May 14-19.The duo competed in Carnegie Science Center’s 78th annual Covestro Pittsburgh Regional Science & Engineering Fair in March - one of the oldest and largest science fairs in the country - and the SticKey earned them a spot in the international fair.Ehrgood and Richard will be among more than 1,700 students from 72 nations and territories to compete for scholarships, tuition grants, internships, scientific field trips, and a trip to attend the Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm.“The whole thing is quite surreal, to think something we invented is taking us to L.A. and possibly to Sweden,” said Ehrgood. “It’s going to be amazing to see what other people will be presenting.“Last year, Ehrgood and Richard won the Governor’s STEM Competition at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster.A team of five students originally worked on the SticKey, and won the first leg of the Governor’s STEM Competition, but the other participants left the team because of their busy schedules.“It’s taken up so much of my time,” said Ehrgood. “I don’t have much time for anything else.“Ehrgood came up with the idea for the SticKey when his grandfather suffered an arm injury after a fall and couldn’t play fantasy football.The SticKey is designed to be practical for users with a variety of disabilities.Ehrgood and Richard have spent countless hours working on their presentation at the fair, which Richard describes as an “expo for inventions.“The young scientists are happy that their curiosity and ingenuity has resulted in a product that can make a meaningful difference in the lives of people with disabilities.Input from BirdBrain Technologies and Cameron Wellness Center led to refinements of the device.“Throughout this, Connor and I have been driven to help other people, and we’re excited about the possibility of putting our product on the market,” said Richard. “That’s ultimately what you want to do.“As for the driver’s licenses, those will have to wait.“That will be a project for this summer,” said Richard.