Other Articles in this Category
Most Viewed Stories
Most Commented Stories
Lindhurst sophomore creates winning helicopter design
Young inventor soars to new heights
Tharon Trujillo was never really into aircraft.
Yet, when By Kids for Kids and the helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky conducted a contest this year called the 2050 Helicopter Challenge, an idea popped into his head. The Lindhurst High School sophomore examined the wings and interior of a basic helicopter and spent two months adjusting its structure and technology before submitting a design.
"I just wanted to take advantage of the contest and put what I was thinking into a picture, put the image into action," Tharon said.
He has since been announced the grand prize winner of the Igor Sikorsky Youth Innovator Award and was awarded a scholarship for his design of a new concept helicopter to help in emergency situations.
Sikorsky, the same manufacturer that builds Black Hawks and presidential helicopters, is flying Tharon, 15, to its Connecticut headquarters this weekend for a tour of facilities and to explain his concept to the CEO. He's also been asked to speak to a group of Yale University engineering students.
Due to a confidentiality contract, Tharon can share few details about his design, but he said the idea was spurred by the white boards that are used during mass casualty situations like earthquakes and tsunamis to help people locate their loved ones. He calls his drone helicopter creation The FLEA, for flying logistic electrical system.
"Everything is for safety. I care about other people, and I don't want to seem them hurt or their loved ones hurt," he said.
The Plumas Lake teen is no newbie inventor. Tharon has been crafting ideas since early childhood and started a business at 10 years old, the profits from which he puts into a college fund.
Tharon often bounces ideas off his dad and talks with his little sister, who is only 6 but is already cranking out little inventions herself. New invention possibilities inspire him all the time.
"If it comes into my head, I grab paper and I write it down," he said.
His inventions include the Lock N Block Sliding Door Gate and Lock N Block Window Guard, which are sold by major retailers, and the Bathe-Aid, which should soon be on store shelves. They've also snared him several awards for innovation and safety, and he has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for Young Inventors.
Tharon admits it's a little strange seeing his products on store shelves or when friends mention they have them at home, but it also gives him a strong sense of success.
"It feels good when you can invent something and it actually works out," he said.
His love of inventing has also helped him work through learning challenges. Tharon has struggled in school because he has an auditory processing delay that affects his memory, retention and speech.
By donning a dress shirt and tie and attending trade expositions across the United States, Tharon has been forced to confront his disabilities to speak with CEOs, engineers, company presidents and other high-profile people.
"It's weird. I'm a younger kid, and they are all professionals," he said. "I wonder, are they going to think I am just a normal kid?"
But as he starts talking about his inventions, most people realize the potential, and Tharon said he recognizes the expression on their faces when they like his idea.
"I always hear, 'I can't believe we never thought of this,'" Tharon said.
David Eldridge teaches the Careers course at Lindhurst High School and said Tharon is a creative, intelligent and hardworking student.
"He seems to have a personality that you notice when you first meet him," he said. "He has a positive attitude that is certain to lead to success."
Because of the nature of Eldridge's class, he has not witnessed any of Tharon's disabilities, he said.
Eldridge's class lends itself well to helping Tharon with his disabilities, he said. The teen learns and interacts with the world kinesthetically, and the class offers opportunities to touch, see and feel things.
Sometimes Tharon can be shy in talking about his inventions, but Eldridge said he also knows Tharon wants to become an actor and has other ambitions for his business.
"He's a good role model for other students. He's a model student in my class," he said. "I hope other students recognize their opportunities and possibilities like he does."
Tharon is also an inspirational speaker and travels to schools and community colleges to talk about how one person can make a difference in the world. His messages to others is to follow through with their ideas and pursue their dreams.
"I want to be an inspiration," he said.
CONTACT reporter Ashley Gebb at 749-4783.