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Engineering program competes at Skills USA

Reese Weaks, Corey Malouf, Jonathan Gonzales and Kaleb Graham.

The Princeton High School engineering students traveled to the District 5 Skills USA contest in Waco to compete for the chance to advance to state with several innovative projects.

Unlike last year when the entire engineering program teamed up for one primary contest project, this year’s students broke into smaller groups to test their engineering savvy at Skills USA. Several PHS students will compete at the state level in April.

The team of Reese Weaks, Corey Malouf, Jonathan Gonzales and Kaleb Graham entered the Applied Engineering event. These students were given a written skills test and tasked with an engineering challenge. They competed for more than six hours to design, diagram, test, improve and demonstrate their apparatus.

“The students were incredibly effective in their questioning techniques and critical observation of themselves and competitors,” said PHS engineering instructor Naureen Fielding. “Their apparatus was the most cost effective and scored the third highest number of points.”

The team earned second place at district and will compete at the Texas State Skills USA Competition in April.

Darian Black

Darian Black competed in the STEM Innovative Design Job Exhibit category.

“She created a device that will attach to a pneumatic nail gun and help the user consistently place nails along the edge of a project,” Mrs. Fielding said.

Although Darian is a first-year engineering student, she also competes in Construction Trades events at Skills USA. Darian used Solid Edge from Seimens as her CAD program to design and improve her device and created it using the 3-D printer at PHS. This work netted first place at district to advance to state.

Payton Samford

Payton Samford won first place and a trip to state in the STEM Innovative and Design category. He designed a fully rotating camera mount that he calls The PS-RD 360 and applied the engineering design process more effectively than other contestants by creating a practical tool for videographers that is inexpensive and integrates with existing video equipment. 
“Payton wants to perfect his device before state in April with a goal of winning Best in Show,” Mrs. Fielding said.

Nico Ledesma.

Nico Ledesma competed in Engineering Related Design with an emphasis on Biochemical Engineering.

“Nico researched the mechanism by which an oscillating chemical reaction may impart kinetic energy to a laboratory gel providing a pulsating foundation for potential cell or tissue growth,” Mrs. Fielding said.

His project required assistance from chemistry and biology teachers, as well as a graduate student biochemist. Nico won first place with his project and qualified for state.

Lilly Rodriguez, Sydney Bazan and Kendra Gillespie.

The team of Lillian Rodriguez, Sydney Bazan and Kendra Gillespie competed in Engineering Related Design. The students researched truss bridge structures before designing and testing truss bridges using the West Point Bridge Designer CAD program.

They built several models of the same truss bridges using cardstock and various glues.

“Each bridge was tested under compressive and tension loads,” Mrs. Fielding said. “Designs were improved, and the models were remade in an attempt to construct the most cost effective load-bearing bridge possible.”

This was a first-place project and qualified for state.

Jesus Lobato Chocano.

Foreign exchange student Jesus Lobato Chocano, who is here from Spain, competed in the Civil Engineering Exhibit with a scale drawing of an equestrian-focused neighborhood that would border Princeton Lakes on the west and Lake Lavon on the east.

According to Mrs. Fielding, Jesus worked with a member of the Princeton Planning and Zoning Commission to collect information about current zoning, elevations, flood plains, Army Corps of Engineer land and easements.

“His goal was to create a walkable commercial/retail area accessible to the public from Highway 380 that would serve as a mini community with health-care services, elementary school, public recreational areas and mixed use housing all focused on large common areas and structures for equestrian housing and use,” Mrs. Fielding said.

Alex Salinas.

Alex Salinas competed in Engineering Related Design and constructed a hydraulic system modeled with tubing and syringes. He created a solid rotating structure similar to a crane and connected the hydraulic system to the structure to lift and move small objects.

Jacob Rogers and Lucky Vue.

Jacob Rogers and Lucky Vue entered the Engineering Related Design category as a team.

“They applied the engineering design process to increase the distance that could be achieved with the same force applied to in-line rollerblades,” Mrs. Fielding said. “The students tested different masses and assemblages over a 3-week period to determine the balance necessary between mass and velocity to achieve the greatest momentum.”

Although the design project earned second place, it did not qualify for state.

“We are excited to share the great things that are being accomplished by our students in the Engineering Program,” Mrs. Fielding said.