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How can egg cartons, plastic grocery bags, duct tape and paper towels be used to deliver a payload to a target? This challenge was presented to 48 high school students to test their skills at last month’s local National Engineers Week Design Competition. The students were from eight high schools in five surrounding counties. “The challenge was to build a wind-powered vehicle to deliver a payload to a target,” said Paul Kelly, design competition coordinator and ATA engineer. “The target was 170 inches from the starting point.” The students were provided with various materials in a kit and given two hours to design and build their vehicle. A portable fan provided the wind for the challenge.
The students were able to test their designs against each other after lunch. “I was anxious to find out the problem because I’m always hungry for a new challenge,” said Cole Johnson, a Grundy County High School student and design competition participant. “To begin with, I thought we would run out of materials. But as it turned out we were given an ample amount of supplies to create a very successful design.” The challenge is presented in a way that students must use their math and physics knowledge. Kelly said the students handled the challenge well. “Most used an egg carton that was provided in the materials kit,” he said. “Sails were constructed from plastic grocery bags, manila folders, duct tape, and paper towels.”
Carrie Reinholtz, an AEDC technology project manager, volunteered as a judge for this year’s competition. Reinholtz looks forward to the event every year and describes the students as creative minds and innovative thinkers.“This was my first year participating as a judge,” she said. “I really enjoyed listening and scoring the students’ thought processes as well as their marketing strategies. “In this day and age, the best design doesn’t necessarily win. It’s a package deal. You not only have to be good at the fundamental science and engineering of the design, but also a great communicator. The students excelled at both this year.”
First place was awarded to Bedford County Cascade High School students Trevor Arnold and Steven McMillian. They each received a Galaxy Tab 2, seven-inch tablet and a first place plaque. Second place was awarded to Coffee County Central High School students Phillip Hullett and Samuel Foster. The 2nd place prize to each student was a Kindle E-reader. Third place was awarded to Bedford County Shelbyville Central High School students Vincent Caldwell and Jarred Smith. They each received an eight GB MP3 player.
Cole Johnson (left) and Jon-Luc Roberts, Grundy County High School students, explain how they made their transport vehicle before they tested it at the local National Engineers Week Design Competition.