Arizona State Team Wins in Aeronautical Engineering Contest

Submitted by Dennis Fiscus.

On February 23, 2012, at ASU Polytechnic, Arizona Department of Education in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Association and PTC announced that the San Tan Foothills High School, Career and Technical Education, Engineering Program in Coolidge was the winner of the Real World Design Challenge state competition. This is the first year that Arizona has participated in this national competition.

In September, 2011 Governor Jan Brewer and Arizona Superintendent of Schools John Huppenthal announced Arizona’s participation in the Real World Design Challenge competition. The competition challenged teams of high school students to solve a real engineering problem in the field of aeronautical engineering. Arizona became one of 30 other states and territories to join the Challenge.

For the first year of participation, Arizona schools with Career and Technical Education Programs and schools who chose to just form teams for the competition formed 60 teams of students from all over the state. Enthusiasm was high among teachers and students to compete. The teams were provided free engineering software, mentoring opportunities and on-line support to help them through the process. In order to complete the competition, students needed dedication, time management skills, creativity, project management skills, the ability to compute high level calculus and physics problems and apply those calculations, as well as organizing and developing written and oral presentations. Many of the teams of students did not know each other before they became involved with the project, but to quote our winning student team, “We are truly a family, now.” Students spent time before and after school working on the demanding problems.

The San Tan Foothills High School team will now compete in the national challenge with winning teams from the other 30 states and territories on a continuation of their completed aeronautical problem. In April, the team will be flown to Washington DC with representatives from the Arizona Department of Education to compete in the national challenge. They will demonstrate their work using a computer simulation model and an oral presentation at the National Space Museum to defend their solution.

Every team who accepts the challenge and works through this process—wins, according to several of the teams’ teacher coaches. And as a country, we win. The Challenge allows students to expand their interests in engineering, math, science and technology. Engineering excellence develops products which enlarges our nation’s economy.

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