A Pelham Bay college student was part of a team that won a prestigious marketing award at an annual competition held by NASA. The program is designed to generate advertising campaigns that sell the idea of space exploration to a whole new generation of Americans.
Alex Wierchinski, a Crosby Avenue resident who is entering his senior year at Bentley University in Massachusetts, was part of his school’s team at the 2009 NASA Means Business Competition. His team took first prize for creating marketing techniques to get more American’s, especially young people, interested in the space program.
Wierchinski’s extracurricular work on the marketing project, which took almost his entire junior year, centered on a sub-team that developed the idea of creating individual Lego building-block sets commemorating original space missions from the 1960s.
The goal is to rekindle inspiration from the original moon landing in 1969 to inspire a whole new generation to support NASA’s work.
“The whole premise of the process is to develop a business communication plan to inform, educate and inspire Americans to support and understand our space program,” Wierchinski said. “We had a lot of freedom: there wasn’t any limitations into what we could do. We put together focus groups and we worked to partner with Lego. Bentley’s team had three different groups: a Lego project, a rocket building project and a professional sports concept.”
Wierchinski, who majors in corporate finance and accounting, said that putting together the Lego sets commemorating the Constellation space flight program in the 1960s was designed to have young people connect with parents or grandparents who remember the groundbreaking space missions leading up to Neil Armstrong’s moon walk.
“We that a series of individual Lego sets commemorating the Constellation program; the idea was for us to realize that we would be back to the moon and on Mars in 2020,” Wierchinski said. “The preparation took place on campus. The finals were in Florida. I wasn’t surprised that we won the competition.”
If NASA and Lego brought the product to market, young people would be able to construct models of the main rockets of the Constellation space program: Orion, Altir, Aries I, and Aries V.
He credited his professor George Fishman, the moderator of the program, with the much of the team’s success.
In his spare time, Wierchinski is also part of local blues and rock band called The Broken Steps. Wierchinski grew up in Pelham Bay and attended Villa Maria Academy and Iona Prep.
“I am thrilled that our team won,” he said.
“I plan on participating in this activity next year.”