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Engineering students solve band problem

Engineering students with project. When the PHS band program approached the engineering students seeking help to solve a problem, the final solution turned into the gold medal project at the annual Skills USA competition.

Fine arts director Brandon Brewer needed help keeping his band students hydrated during hot summer practices.

“Mr. Brewer came to us to solve an issue for the band, so we developed a water chilling device,” said engineering student Hailey Hambleton. “There was always warm water coming out of the hoses.”

The students had to begin by brainstorming ideas.

“They wanted to see if we could solve the problem,” said engineering student Isaac Graham. “They were already filling coolers with ice, but by the time students needed water, it was warm.”

Commonly called a “water cow,” the hydration systems range in price from nearly $700 for a basic hose system to more than $3,800 when they are equipped with chilling capabilities.

According to engineering student Cole Mentel, there were parameters for the new cooling creation.

“The water coming from the cow was always warm even if started cold, so that problem had to be fixed,” Cole said. “They didn’t want to have to touch it again once it was set up, so it had to be all automatic. And, they didn’t want to keep refilling it with ice because that defeated the purpose.”

The engineering class decided to break up the project into different issues to solve, and the students had to come together for the final project.

Students show how transportable the cooler really is. “We realized a lot of communication has to go into any type of engineering process,” Isaac said. “We knew we were a little disorganized during creation, so we needed to work on our communication to avoid chaos.”

But the students believe they conquered their weaknesses, which is evidenced by their gold medals awarded for first place at Skills USA.

“It’s very practical, so we ended up with a nice solution to the band’s problem that was super low in price and super efficient,” Isaac said. “When we were pricing similar equipment on the market, we found that just one piece of a water cow was already $600. We can build our entire system for less than $500.”

Corporate sponsors assisted the students with the project. These included GorillaMaker 3D Printers, Solid Edge and Siemens.


Students involved in the project were:

Melissa Avila

Will Courtney

Joseph Garcia

Isaac Graham

Hailey Hambleton

Junior Hernandez

Payton Jones

Cole Mentel

Leo Munguia

Trinity Varvel

Although band students won’t get to try it out until summer camp, the engineering students will be in Corpus Christie in April for the state Skills USA contest trying to win another gold medal for their practical project.

For the state competition, Isaac, Hailey and Cole will represent PHS during the contest. They will present the project, as well as provide the rationale and engineering concepts behind it.

“Our water distribution system starts with a cooler and spreads the water over the ice to cool,” Isaac said. “So what comes out of the hose after it pumps through the cow will be cold.”

Isaac believes their “Chill Out” system will be a contender at state.

The creation. “Our design definitely didn’t compare to anything at the district contest,” he said. “And when you look at similar systems on the market, others are not very cooling. They only bring the water temperatures down about 10 percent, while ours is like ice water because it cools down the water by 65 percent.”

The Skills USA gold medal.