Quickstarter funds STEM boat

Brittany Smyth, Staff writer

Erie native Jamie Trost will embark on a journey with fellow co-workers and students from the Mercyhurst community to recreate the Gunboat Schooner Porcupine, a ship  from the War of 1812, scheduled to set sail during the summer of 2016.

Trost started working full-time last March at the Erie Bayfront Maritime Center. He is the project manager on the re-creation of Porcupine. When the task is complete, he will become the captain of the ship.

Trost learned how to sail at an early age.

“Learning how to sail began when I was five, but I became very passionate about it when I was around the age of 13. It was a family tradition,” Trost said.

Trost and his team will be using donated fiberglass hulls from an Ohio couple, Keith and Kathy Palmerton, in the construction of the ship.

With the help of a Mercyhurst Professor Kristan Wheaton, a Quickstarter campaign was brought to the Mercyhurst campus. Quickstarter is a tool to identify and help potential entrepreneurs conceive successful crowdfunding campaigns

Rachel Betzner, a junior Intelligence Studies and Marketing Major, used Quickstarter as an opportunity to gain experience in the marketing field. Betzner is the project manager of the campaign conducted by the Erie Bayfront Maritime Center.

“Before the launch of the campaign, I was working with students to design a logo for the t-shirts and to create video to put on the ‘Kickstarter’ webpage.

I am also working with Trost and Wheaton to create a successful campaign,” Betzner said.

“I am currently contacting all media outlets to let the community know about this project.”

The team had reached their goal of raising $5,000 within 48 hours. The money will be used to install a wooden deck on the Porcupine.

“From the launch time until the time we met our goal, I was checking my phone almost every hour to see our progress,” Betzner said.

This project is being created to introduce STEM technology and teach students about the history behind the boat. Porcupine will be a school-ship for Erie. The boat will provide a hands-on learning tool for students interested in STEM technology and for those who want to learn more about its history.

The Porcupine will be an historical attraction to the Erie community because the War of 1812. Daniel Dobbins, a former sailing master in the United States Navy, was able to convince President Madison that a fleet should be built on Presque Isle’s sheltered harbor to defend America.

Trost called this project, “innovative” because with over two decades of history students can be engaged by Erie’s past.

Students from Mercyhurst can get involved by helping monetarily or through the use of social media. The main goal is to get the word out to the community.

Students can search Gunboat Schooner Porcupine at BMC on Facebook and like the page and share it with other friends. Students can also donate money to help rebuild the ship.

For more information contact Jamie Trost at jamie.trost@bayfrontcenter.org.