High School Design Competition Set for Oct. 25

Friday, October 14, 2016

LAWRENCE — Hundreds of high school students from across the region are expected to visit the University of Kansas School of Engineering in late October for the High School Design Competition. 

The students will participate in competitions in five different engineering related fields, giving them a taste of real-world engineering applications and providing KU officials a chance to recruit top talent from the area.

“What we really want them to get out of it is an appreciation and understanding of several different areas of engineering,” said Adam Smith, senior coordinator of the Self Engineering Leadership Fellows Program, which is organizing the event. 

“Even today, when there’s such a focus on STEM fields in high school, a lot of students don’t know all the different areas of engineering,” he said. “We’ve got programming, robotics, structures, chemical and aerospace. You’re not going to get that everywhere else. That’s really special to this program.”

The competition will have an “island escape” theme. Students in the chemical engineering competition, for example, will have to use their knowledge of chemical reactions to build a tiny boat capable of getting from the mythical island back to civilization under its own power. 

Other competitions will include events in Lego Mindstorms, programming, structural engineering and aerospace engineering. 

“I think students who participate in High School Design 2016 will leave with a clear understanding of what real engineers do, the problems they solve and what industry looks like,” said Lauren Sherwood, a Topeka  junior in mechanical engineering who is helping organize the event. “Unlike previous events, this year's competition will feature input and interaction with professionals from major engineering firms, including Black & Veatch and Burns & McDonnell.”

Alita Joseph, a Lawrence junior in mechanical engineering, said earlier High School Design Competitions helped convince her to come to KU.

“As a high school student, it was really exciting to spend a day on campus and get exposed to the world of engineering,” she said. “Now that I’m on the other side and actually helping plan the event, I’m still extremely excited! I get to see high school students come learn about engineering and discover what they are passionate about.”

Winners will be awarded a total of $10,000 in scholarships. 

“Our hope is we can show off the fantastic facilities and students we have here,” Smith said. “Our goal is to recruit the best and brightest students from the area.”

The event is organized by the junior cohort of KU’s SELF program. It is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, October 25 at the engineering complex

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