Students rally to overcome challenges of coronavirus, distance learning
Despite the challenges of collaborating during a pandemic, students at Fishers High School presented creative engineering solutions to guest judges last week as a capstone to a months-long STEAM competition.
The competition drew together teams made of students skilled in disciplines such as science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The teams then worked together to find the best and most creative solutions for a mock scenario in which a transmission line needed to be built across the high school’s campus.
The students remained enthusiastic about the competition even as Fishers shut down on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Though some of the teams shrank, the students who remained said they were motivated by the high school’s motto: “Tiger Tough.”
“We wouldn’t want to reflect a quitter attitude,” said Reagan Frank, a junior at Fishers whose winning team dropped from seven students to three. “That’s not reflective or representative of the school.”
The winning team presented a route that ran along the outer edge of the high school’s campus, minimizing road crossings and avoiding wetlands and floodplains. The line featured transmission structures that depicted a stylized tiger running along the route, from tail to stripes to ears.
“At some point during the journey, they were given opportunities to quit. It would have been easy,” said Fishers High School principal Jason Urban. “When we talk about Fishers pride, that’s what we’re talking about—those situations where you’re not quite sure you can do it, but you jump in and do it anyway. I saw that in all of our students today.”
The competition was funded by a grant from Duke Energy and a donation from consulting firm POWER Engineers in an effort to get high school students thinking about careers in energy—and not just in traditional engineering jobs.
“By holding competitions like this, we help make the learning fun, while at the same time generating excitement and enthusiasm for STEAM-related careers,” said Mark LaBarr, Duke Energy government and community relations manager in Hamilton County. “Opportunities for future engineering jobs in the utility sector are most promising.”
Fishers High School, Duke and POWER hope to hold another competition next February, though the format is yet to be determined. POWER says it hopes to expand into similar programs in other communities where the company has offices.
“The students’ continued dedication during the pandemic is truly remarkable,” said Shawn Jackson, POWER Engineers project manager. “The way they were able to adapt and coordinate efforts as a team is inspiring, especially since many of us in the industry are faced with a similar challenge, coordinating remotely to get work done for our clients.”