McHenry High School student engineers design solutions to real-life problems
During the past school year, McHenry High School engineering students designed products to remove oil from oceans, provide safe drinking water and shelter those who are homeless as part of an upper-level Project Lead The Way (PLTW) engineering program.
Ten teams of students were able to present their projects to engineers for feedback at a May 2 Engineering Night, an annual culmination of school-year engineering work in the Engineering Design and Development class. The engineers are all McHenry High School graduates.
East Campus senior Collin Dziekan, part of a team that designed a device to clean oil spills from ocean water, said he was a little nervous about presenting to engineers. Russell Micklinghoff, West Campus engineering teacher, said he expects students to be nervous since the engineers provide real feedback on the students’ work.
“It’s meant to mimic industry as much as possible,” said Micklinghoff, who works with East Campus engineering teacher Jim Nelson on the McHenry High School District 156 PTLW engineering program.
“It’s not about a contest. The point is to present their findings,” Micklinghoff said.
Dziekan and his teammate Kiegan Mills, also an East Campus senior, said the program a great way to get real exposure to the field of engineering.
“It gives you a good opportunity to work with practical tools,” Mills said.
Dziekan said students had the opportunity to try many different solutions to problems before settling on a particular solution. “Most of our finding of solutions is process of elimination,” he said.
Some of the other projects included a device for people to wear to improve running speed, a better grill brush, a wheelchair accelerator, and a device to improve traffic lights.
Judges were John Finch, a staff engineer for Motorola Solutions, Zach Romme, vice president of Laminated Components, and Chris Bigall, civil and construction engineer at HR Green.
Project Lead The Way is a national STEM curriculum for K-12 schools.