BHS students win Real World Design Challenge
Four Baldwin High School students were the first to win the inaugural U.S. Department of Energy’s Real World Design Challenge.
Senior Colin Busby, junior Lauren Barnes, sophomore Carson Barnes and sophomore Colby Soden were awarded on Tuesday in the office of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. They were given certificates and medals while meeting Sebelius in Topeka.
“It was pretty exciting,” Soden said. “There were TV cameras and I think the governor understood the importance of it, which made it more exciting.”
The group of BHS students was led by coaches Pam Davis and Sandy Barnes. The team will go on to represent the state at the national competition in Washington, D.C., next month.
“It was pretty exciting,” Soden said. “We got pulled out of class and they told us we won. We’re excited, because now we get to go to Washington, D.C. We’re pretty pumped.”
The students’ project was to design an airplane that improved fuel consumption. They met three times per week on the average at the Barnes’ home over winter break and at the Baker University Library in the evenings and on Sundays.
They also spent many hours researching airplane wing designs, building them on 3-D software and testing them with the fluid dynamics software. Some of their meetings were also during seminar at the school.
“It took a lot of work,” Soden said. “We worked a lot on Sundays and a lot during school, when we weren’t doing homework. It just took a lot of extra time.”
Soden said the group had to create a PowerPoint presentation and keep a journal for the contest. He also said design and better numbers were the two primary factors in the competition.
The contest encouraged high school students to solve real problems currently faced by the engineering industry, while encouraging youth to get excited about science and engineering careers.
“This again shows that our students in Kansas are exemplars for the nation in terms of 21st century skills and engagement in solving real-world problems in the much needed career fields of science, math, engineering and technology,” said Alexa Posny, Kansas commissioner of education.
Students from 10 states participated in the first-ever Real World Design Challenge. Kansas supplied eight qualifying designs, the most in the nation, following the theme of “Aviation and Fuel Consumption.” Each team used professional engineering software in order to redesign an existing aircraft in order to improve its fuel efficiency without reducing the overall performance of the aircraft.
“I’m proud these students have found innovative solutions to real-world challenges facing the engineering industry,” Sebelius said. “The skills they developed during the Real World Design Challenge will help them as they chart their careers and begin a lifetime of innovative leadership right here in Kansas.”