Alex Cohn Grant presentation 2017

2017 Alex Cohn Grant

The 2017 Alex Cohn Grant recipients, Craig Ackerman ’18 and Ian Emery ’19, presented on their work at Upper School Meeting today. With the funding, Ackerman used arduinos to attempt to create the world’s lightest functional exoskeleton while Emery built a professional-grade rowing vessel.

While their projects were different, their passions came from a personal connection.

A nationally-ranked gymnast, Ackerman was inspired to pursue his project after an injury kept him from competition for more than a year.

“I walked into this project without previous knowledge on how to do most of what I presented to you, but I had a passion for it and I wanted to learn more about it. So if you get anything out of this presentation let it be that if you have an idea that you truly believe in, don’t let learnable traits stop you,” Ackerman told students.

Emery – a coxswain since Freshman year – wanted to take his love of the sport of rowing and turn it into a work of art.

“Rowing gave me a very distinct interest in how boats go fast and how boats are able to move through the water so elegantly,” he said. “This project is by no means done, and I plan to use the tools in the R+D Center to put the finishing touches on it.”

Below, you can check out Ackerman and Emery’s presentations, and also read a transcript from Josh Rilla introducing the students and sharing more information about the Grant and Alex Cohn.

Josh Rilla, Alex Cohn Grant advisor: 

Today I have the great honor to introduce the Alex Cohn Grant and this past year’s recipients.

Alex Cohn was a Beaver student just like you. His brother Zach remembers that “he was sharp, funny, disarming and always ready to go with an arsenal of wisecracks. When Alex was around, life wasn’t so serious. This isn’t a quality we typically celebrate, in school especially. That’s too bad. Life can be hard, and being able to take it all in with a grain of salt is about as good as any solution there is.”

Alex Cohn was a senior at Beaver when he passed away. Alex was Alex. He had a profoundly positive effect on those around him, and one way he continues to have that positive effect is through this grant.

Each year a rising junior or senior is awarded the grant in order to pursue a dream of theirs that doesn’t quite fit into the normal day-to-day school routine.

This year, for the first time, we awarded two students.

Today you will hear from both of them: senior Craig Ackerman and junior Ian Emery.

Now, you are catching them at the end of a six-month journey, over, through and around many obstacles. I want you to think of this presentation as a celebration, of sorts, not only of the accomplishments that Craig and Ian have managed but a celebration of Alex’s particular spirit living on through their endeavors.

Now, it’s always a bit nerve-wracking to present in front of the whole upper school, if you could give them a lot of love and support today, that would be greatly appreciated. Ladies and Gentlemen, Craig Ackerman followed by Ian Emery.

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