Three East Lake High School students who developed a soldering tool have won a $10,000 grant to start a company and take their invention to market.
The "Next Generation Entrepreneur" grant was awarded to Jason Wilkinson, Shea Akerman and Jason Williams, all students in East Lake's engineering academy. This is the second year for the grant, awarded annually by Pinellas Education Foundation and FairWarning, a Clearwater health information security company.
The students created a universal soldering attachment that allows someone to hold three things at once: a soldering iron, solder wire and the metal piece being repaired.
Their first product went through several designs before they made their first computer-aided design drawing. Multiple prototypes were created in a 3-D printer as they experimented on how to use the device.
FairWarning CEO Kurt Long will mentor the students as they launch a company, secure a patent and market the device.
In the fall, Wilkinson will attend Kettering University in Flint, Mich., to study and intern in electrical engineering. Akerman will attend the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne to major in aerospace, and Williams is attending Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland to pursue electrical engineering.
The three students made up one of 60 applications for the grant. They were among three finalist entries.