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Cazenovia teams place first, second in annual engineering challenge

"The Squad" team members, from left, Peter DeCew, Brendan Wells, Carl Bauder and Frank Marconi, along with their technology teacher and challenge advisor Jason Hyatt, pose with their awards.

"The Squad" team members, from left, Peter DeCew, Brendan Wells, Carl Bauder and Frank Marconi, along with their technology teacher and challenge advisor Jason Hyatt, pose with their awards. Photo by Jason Emerson.

— 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.”

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