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From idea to reality: Pitsco’s collaboration with the PHS launch program

Published February 9, 2024

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If you had no prior knowledge about Pitsco or any of our products, what do you think the retail price would be for LUMA, our newest upper-elementary coding solution? This is the exact question Vice President of Education Matt Frankenbery asked four high school students at the start of the 2023 Pittsburg High School Launch Program.

Launch, a Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) Network Partner, was developed in March of 2020 to immerse junior and senior high school students into local business, where they would be exposed to real-world experiences while helping the community. So, Pitsco was excited to partner with Launch this past year to show support for local career and technical education (CTE), as the initiative perfectly aligned with our mission of empowering students through hands-on learning.

Throughout the program, four PHS students were actively engaged in the development of two proprietary products, LUMA and the Drone Maker Kit. They were able to gain valuable industry knowledge and skills within their “STEM” and “Business and Entrepreneurship” areas of focus. As the students shadowed various departments and employees, they took an active part in learning how a product goes from a simple idea all the way to market. Throughout the semester, they experienced all the stages, from brainstorming and market research to budgeting, scheduling, and more.

As these four students spent more time working with our teams and our products, they also provided us with new perspectives and innovative ideas. It was surprising and amazing to witness how much ownership the students took over their work and the products themselves. Frankenbery stated that during one of their presentations over LUMA, they had programmed the robot to move around, “but more than that, they kept referring to it as ‘she,’ and you could tell that they had really adopted her as one of their own and had grown to really care about this product.”

These students truly seamlessly integrated into the Pitsco team, meeting the same high expectations as our seasoned members. As aptly stated by Kristi Bettega, project manager, “The collaboration with Launch was just as beneficial to Pitsco as it was to the students who came to Pitsco each week. Not only were they very helpful, but it also reinvigorated what we do here, fully understanding how our decisions impact students in the classroom.”

So, back to our first question. When the students were originally asked how much they thought the retail price of LUMA would be, not a single one of them had a ballpark answer. However, on the very last day when asked the same question, every single one of their perceptions had evolved due to their understanding of the intricate processes behind Pitsco’s product creation. They had fostered a profound appreciation for the hands-on products we champion.

In essence, our partnership with the Launch Program stands as a testament to the transformative power of CTE. By investing in the next generation, Pitsco reaffirms its commitment to fostering innovation, and ultimately shaping a brighter future for both students and the workforce.

Read all articles in our full publication, Hands-On Heroes: CTE Stories of Innovation and Impact.

“One of the things that we really love about the STEM program is that it’s application based, it’s hands on, students are solving real problems, they’re working collaboratively, and they’re learning that everyone has a role to play and that they all have something to offer. Those are the kind of intangible things that you can’t measure with an ACT and you can’t measure with the AP exams.”

– Dr. Keith Rice, academic dean, UMS-Wright Preparatory School, Mobile, Alabama

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