Seniors at Waunakee High School use STEM to Jump Start their Careers

With schools across Wisconsin marking the end of another calendar year, twelve seniors at Waunakee High School are celebrating the completion of their Engineering Design and Development coursework. A year-long project, the school used STEM-based Project Lead The Way curriculum and the leadership of SkillsUSA Advisor and Technology and Engineering Instructor Ryan Ubersox.

A partnership of students, teachers, and industry working together to ensure America has a “next generation” of skilled workers, graduates of the Engineering Design and Development program have plans ranging from vocational, engineering, and military education in the fall. Splitting the group into three teams at the beginning of the school year, each team first identified a real-world design challenge. Assuming the role of project manager, mechanic, financial adviser, or engineer, the teams met for 1.5 hours every other day, excluding advisory sessions with Ubersox, participating in SkillsUSA design competitions, and site visits to area businesses (many of whom sponsored time, equipment, and intellectual advice from their own engineering departments). With a PCNC 770 available to the teams in the school's technology wing and CNC as part of the pre-requisite engineering curriculum, Ubersox invited Tormach to the year-end final design presentations. Ranging from a bicycle monitoring system to an engine modification and a biomedical twist on a wrist watch alarm clock, each team constructed a table-top display with pamphlets and presented before an auditorium of parents, educators, and community members. Using the PCNC 770 to mill the circuit board for their micro-controller, Team E-Clock worked with local engineering hackerspace Sector67 to determine a safe value for administering a shock to individuals unresponsive to a sound or vibration-based alarm clock. Designing the CAD and CAM for their custom-machined steel saddle monitor mount, Team KeeBike worked closely with Wisconsin-based TREK Bicycle to improve upon all aspects of their blindspot safety monitoring system. Increasing the compression ratio in a motorcycle engine optimized for ethanol fuel compatible and with E85, Team Ethanol Engine worked with Wiseco to fabricate a design ultimately capable of 300 miles per gallon. Closing the event with both words reflection and advice, Ubersox congratulated all three teams and wished them success in their future endeavors. “Hopefully you'll use skills you've developed throughout the year in college and your professional careers.”