High school seniors enrolled in Francis Tuttle’s Pre-Engineering Academy recently showcased innovative solutions to everyday challenges during their annual Engineering Showcase event. Among the inventions were an inventory tracking system, a mechanical opening device for home storm doors designed especially for wheelchair-bound individuals, and a water filtration system for use in third-world countries or following natural disasters. Twelve inventions in all were presented.
Students are in the capstone course Engineering Design and Development, in which students identify, research and develop innovative solutions. Student teams presented to groups of school administrators, parents and members of the public. During the presentation, teams explained an approved potential problem, the research they conducted to find a solution and demonstrated a prototype.
In a realistic environment, students visit with potential users of their idea, collaborate with engineers who help them determine solutions and network with vendors for parts used in their prototype. While researching solutions, students have sometimes determined that their solution may not be a viable alternative and must alter the design. Some students have also visited with patent attorneys to determine whether their idea has market viability.