I thought in a world full of uncertainty (volcanoes still wreaking havoc in Europe, hung parliament in the UK and unrest in Southeast Asia), we could all use an uplifting story to carry us into the weekend.
At the risk of dating myself, I remember walking around my high school campus on the first day of school many moons ago. The principal proudly mentioned that our high school was one of the first 3 in Southern California to get a computer lab. Things have moved on a bit since then.
Now PCs are as commonplace as pens and notebooks in classrooms but still I was really impressed to hear about the Real World Design Challenge (RWDC). If you haven’t heard about the RWDC, here’s a quick summary. Thanks to this program, high school students in the US are given the opportunity to work as teams on solving a real-world engineering challenge. That’s right… high school students. Each year has a different theme. This year the focus was on improving the design of a jet wing and tail to withstand certain physical conditions (such as balance lift and weight). To create and deliver their designs, these teams use professional grade tools such as Pro/ENGINEER and FloEFD. Each team then writes a paper based on its findings and makes a presentation to a panel of expert judges.
This year I believe over 500 teams signed up to participate in this program. And out of this group, three national champions were selected. The winner of this year’s challenge was Baldwin High School from Kansas (I love their team name: The Kansas Tornadoes). The second place team was from Iolani School in Hawaii (they won last year’s event) and the third place honors went to Hutchinson High School in Minnesota. You can read more about the project here if you’re interested.
I don’t know about you but I was really impressed.
These young adults (to call them kids would be a travesty) took part in an extremely challenging extracurricular activity. I mean CFD is usually the realm of mechanical engineers and PhDs… not high school students. But under guidance from their teachers they were able to use both CAD and CFD to show their proposed design improvements in action. For example, FloEFD is a robust CFD tool. Yet its interface is so easy-to-use that high school students are able to use the technology to make a case for their design concepts.
I’m glad that my group was involved in such a worthwhile program and I am so very proud of our next generation engineers. Best wishes for continued success to all of you!
Until next time,
PS. I would also like to thank our colleagues at PTC, Cessna and NASA for supporting such a worthwhile event.