Wiciak Places Third in Diamond Challenge


Christopher Kirwin ‘19, Staff Writer

Michael Wiciak, currently a junior here at Salesianum, has just accomplished a feat that few other high school students can lay claim towards. Since last year, Michael has been working on a design for his idea of a safer drone. This project required extensive research, hard work that resulted in a third place finish at the University of Delaware’s Horn Entrepreneurship Diamond Challenge.

Michael began working on his design for a safer drone when he was in 7th grade after he heard a story on the news about a girl who crashed a drone into a wall where it then struck a twenty-three month old child who lost an eye. Michael wanted to design a drone to ensure that this would never happen again. Ever since, he’s been extremely inspired, but he had no idea just how far it would take him.

Through the help of Dual School, Michael was able to get in contact with Tom Ayling, director of sales at Aerial Applications, a local startup that works with drones. Going into his initial contact with Ayling, Michael said he had no idea how the call would go or what would happen. “I didn’t know what to expect at all, whether he would shoot me down and say my idea was terrible or I was crazy.” However, this is not at all what happened. Ayling recognized Michael’s passion for the idea and was not expecting such a complex idea from a high school student. Ayling was able to spread the ideas to other top aerial engineers, and Michael received feedback and advice for ways to improve his project. With some refining, Michael was able to create a drone that he entered into Delaware’s Horn Entrepreneurship Diamond Challenge.

First, Michael had to present a written document about his idea which included the production, research, cost, overview of the system, and customer analysis. He also had to submit a pitch deck in the hope of being selected by a panel of judges. Once selected, he had to pitch his idea to four judges for five minutes. Michael finished in first place in the Wilmington area and moved on to the semifinals at the University of Delaware where only the top 30 out of 500 entries competed. Again, Michael had five minutes to pitch his idea, and he was able to advance into the top five. In the final round, Michael not only had to pitch his idea in front of judges, but he had to present in front of a live audience as well. Michael finished in third place and took home a prize of $3,500 dollars.

Michael is just one example of brilliant students throughout Salesianum who can accomplish great things through determination and perseverance.