The Engineering Team is a coed team open to students in grades nine through twelve.
Less experienced teammates have the opportunity to listen and learn from more experienced members. They pick up bits of information on mechanics, materials, and tool use. As their knowledge grows, they become more and more capable of presenting their own ideas to the team. As such, there is a natural growth into leadership, not only as a club member, but as an organizer and engineer. MARET ALUMNUS Nick Francisci '12
The engineering team meets after school on Fridays. Each year the team decides on a competition to enter based on the interest of the students and the timing of the competition. Past projects have included a drink dispenser for people who have limited dexterity, trebuchets, a pill dispenser, a firefighting robot, an electric-powered vehicle, human-powered hovercraft, and an underwater robot.
ONE OF THE THINGS I MOST VALUE ABOUT THE ENGINEERING TEAM IS THAT IT GIVES THE STUDENTS EXPERIENCE WORKING ON A PROJECT FOR WHICH THERE IS NO SINGLE CORRECT ANSWER.
This helps to counter their experience with “textbook” problems for which there is often a single solution. It gives them experience in combining finite goals with infinite possibilities--they must first break the project into smaller components and then reach into their imaginations to put all possibilities on the table. Being a part of the Engineering Team also reinforces the process of making decisions and observing the results.
EVERY PROJECT REFLECTS MULTIPLE DESIGN DECISIONS.
Each decision has the potential to affect the performance of the final project as well as subsequent decisions the team will make. I believe this skill is critical, no matter what field of study the students pursue. Students are also exposed to the skill of trouble-shooting: for example, systematically determining why a bike chain is jumping the gear and how best to fix the problem.
ONE OF THE GREATEST CHALLENGES THE STUDENTS FIND IS REALIZING HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO CREATE A WORKING MODEL THAT FUNCTIONS AS WELL IN THE REAL WORLD AS IT DOES IN THEIR IMAGINATION.
Although it can be a frustrating endeavor, the students learn to accept and plan for the complications of integrating components and accounting for stress and friction. One of the most recent highlights for me was biking through the streets of Baltimore with the team’s Kinetic Sculpture vehicle. It drove fourteen miles, through mud and sand, and did a small stint around the Baltimore Inner Harbor. Two members of the team powered the vehicle and the rest of the team rode behind on their bikes as part of the “pit crew.” When one of the two front forks got bent trying to make it through the sand pit the team had to work together to twist the frame back into usable condition.
Jennifer Groppe, Upper School Physics
THE INCLUSIVENESS OF THE ENGINEERING TEAM MEANS THAT EVERY MEMBER HAS A VOICE IN SETTING THE INITIAL PARAMETERS OF A PROJECT, DESIGNING THE PARTICULAR SUBSYSTEM IN WHICH THEY HAVE EXPRESSED INTEREST, AND RESOLVING ANY ISSUES THAT CROP UP DURING CONSTRUCTION.
Taken together, the persistence and inclusiveness of the team enable it to very successfully teach members a lifelong skill of how to vocally present an idea, compromise, and coordinate as a group to design a cohesive project that represents the best of the collective ideas and technical expertise.
AS A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, ENGINEERING TEAM HAS A PARTICULAR ABILITY TO FOSTER LEADERSHIP AND DEVELOP A UNIQUE SKILL SET.
Less experienced teammates have the opportunity to listen and learn from more experienced members. They pick up bits of information on mechanics, materials, and tool use. As their knowledge grows, they become more and more capable of presenting their own ideas to the team. As such, there is a natural growth into leadership, not only as a club member, but as an organizer and engineer. Membership in the team also teaches how to productively fail and use the lessons learned as an impetus for success in a very tangible sense. Specialization within the team allows members to develop a sense of what aspects of engineering they may enjoy later in life. Specialization also allows the club as a whole to broaden its capabilities as specific members learn a unique skill sets and share their competency as a resource for the team. As a whole, the package of technical, personal, and professional skills presented by engineering team is impossible to achieve in other high school extracurriculars.
Maret Alumnus Nick Francisci '12