Apr 15, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The Cazenovia High School gym was filled with contraptions, cords and cables last Saturday, April 13, as more than 35 high school students from Cazenovia and Chittenango competed in the third annual GHD engineering challenge.
The event was the culmination of eight weeks of work researching, designing, presenting, constructing and, finally, bench testing prototype designs for devices that would test the principles of heating a three-room structure and maintain the heat inside at a certain temperature.
In the end, teams from Cazenovia placed first and second, while a Chittenago team not only placed third but also won the judge’s choice award for greatest improvement.
“Competitions like this make a great opportunity for the students to use the concepts and ideas and things they’ve learned in the classroom and apply them to real-world scenarios,” said Cazenovia High School technology teacher Jason Hyatt, who advised all five Cazenovia teams for the competition. “They’re getting experiences of what it’s like to be real engineers working in the field. Everyone, I’d say, has gotten something valuable out of this experience.”
This was the third year that the engineering challenge was sponsored by GHD, one of the world’s leading engineering, architecture and environmental consulting companies. They have offices around the world, including one in Cazenovia.
In 2011, the challenge was to design and construct a water filtration system; in 2012 it was to a recycling sorting system; and this year it was a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
“They get the experiences of electrical wiring, construction, design, safety and even when they request more information they have to do it through a submittal process — just like in the real world,” said Joe Campagna, a GHD engineer and the coordinating chair of the event.
“At the end of the challenge we hope we have intrigued the students enough that they consider a career in engineering,” said GHD service group manager and competition judge John LaGorga.
This year’s competition had seven teams of five to eight members each from the Cazenovia and Chittenango high schools. In past years, other school such as Baldwinsville, ESM and Liverpool also competed. The majority of students who participated this year were in grades 10, 11 and 12.
The competition “challenge statement” was to construct a bench scale HVAC system to maintain three room temperatures utilizing only energy from the ‘sun’ (a heat lamp). Each team decided its own HVAC scheme and construction materials were limited to what was available at a craft, electronics or hardware store. The total constructed size of the bench model had to be contained within a three foot cube (27 cubic feet).
During the prototype bench testing, which occurred last Saturday, teams had a cycle of 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off, with a total of two heating and two cooling periods, with the final cooling period having an extended heat retention measuring time.
Each team undertook different approaches to the challenge. One Cazenovia team utilized insulated walls that also had vents and an electric fan. The vents would spread the light’s heat to all three rooms, while the thermometer inside gauged the temperature. If it got too hot, the fan would kick on, suck in air from outside the device and cool down the air temperature, said team member Jay Doxtator, a sophomore.
One Chittenango team used no electricity other than the lamp, opting instead to utilize only radiation heat through aluminum pellets and pennies. The items would absorb the heat and, when the light when off every 15 minutes, would retain the heat to help maintain the room temperatures, said team members Sean Murray and Alex Lamendola, both seniors.
“The kids who do this get a lot out of it and we always have a good time,” said Chittenango High School physics teacher Beth Carpenter, who advised both of her school’s teams. “I like [the competition] because there is no cost, you do it because you’re learning, you get something out of it — the only benefit is experience.”
When the awards were announced, the Chittenango team “Logan and the Hot Chicks” placed third and also received the Judges Choice award for having the best improvement from the initial written design to the final product. The Cazenovia team “Girls on Fire” placed second, while the Cazenovia team “The Squad” placed first.
The Squad, consisting of team members Carl Bauder, Brendan Wells, Frank Marconi, Peter DeCew, Caleb Edelstein and Zac Morris included three sophomores and one freshman. The team not only received certificates for their victory, but also won a $500 scholarship for their school to be given away at the end of the year to a graduating senior going into a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM)-related field.
“This is awesome. Awesome,” Bauder said after the awards were announced. “To do this for the first time and come out on top, it was a great experience. I’m definitely doing it next year.”
All four of The Squad members who were present Saturday (Edelstein and Morris were not there) said they planned to do the challenge again next year, and hoped to have the same team again.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.