For many Regis students, the first foray into the professional world can come quite early in their academic careers. This was no doubt true for Nate Croce ’23, Dimitri Mignano ’25, and Brian Witanowski ’24, who each participated in an intensive, two-week High School Summer STEM program earlier this summer at Innoveering, a Long Island-based aerospace and defense technology company. The program, which was organized by Regis alumnus Chris Mignano ‘17, represented a unique opportunity for STEM and engineering-oriented students to practically apply their skills.
Founded in 2012, Innoveering serves the defense, aerospace, and energy technology sectors, having been awarded a number of major contracts. The company served as an ideal training site for the Regians, whose interests span from wind-tunnel technology to plasma driven shock tubes.
The students were first identified as a good fit for the program through their participation in Regis’ Science Research Project (SRP) course, in which all three are currently undertaking engineering-related study. An elective course that Regians can enroll in during their sophomore, junior, and senior years, SRP affords motivated students – those prepared to conduct scientific research independently – the opportunity to pursue focused research and to be trained in an advanced level of scientific inquiry.
“All three of them expressed a lot of great interest,” said Mignano, a full-time employee at Innoveering who planned this summer’s inaugural High School program. Mignano approached Mr. Frank Barona and Mr. Xavier Simon ’05 – teachers in the Science Department who advise SRP enrollees – who then recommended qualified candidates. The students’ background in SRP laid the foundation for the work they would perform at Innoveering.
The two-week training program was broken down into two phases: the first week primarily covered mechanics and coding instruction for the students, and the second week encompassed a capstone project each student could undertake independently and present to the company at the program’s conclusion. Speaking to the inspiration behind the program’s model, Mignano said, “We wanted participants to come out of it learning new things and with something tangible… at the end of it that they could bring with them to interviews or back to [Regis] to present.”
The program’s capstone portion gave the three Regians an opportunity to delve further into their SRP projects, and to discover their research’s professional applications. Croce and Witanowski, who have both worked on wind tunnels as part of their research, used the capstone to apply computational fluid dynamic modeling (CFD) to wind tunnel technology – a process that is essential to the current demands of the aerospace industry. Dimitri Mignano '25, who will begin his SRP project this fall, pursued a capstone in acoustic particle levitation, which similarly has applications for his intended research in plasma driven shock tubes.
Bridging the gap between these divergent concepts and, specifically, the intellectual tools required to undertake such projects is their mutual desirability in the professional world. The technologies the students explored in their capstones, “are critical to aerospace and defense development,” Chris Mignano '17 said. Equally indispensable are the skills required to research and execute projects of a large scope: “Both groups built up models, developed a plan for testing them and for getting data from them, and then executed and presented at the end.”
For the students, the program was pivotal in the development of their budding scientific endeavors. “The Innoveering High School Program was a great experience that combined classroom concepts with collaborative and hands-on projects," Croce remarked. “The program provided me with all of the necessary resources to complete my projects but also challenged me to explore different thought processes to create innovative solutions.”
Mignano reported that the Innoveering staff was especially pleased with the Regians’ work over the course of the program and were already looking forward to hosting more Regis students in the years to come.