Seniors in the New Visions Engineering class at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES are learning that engineering is sometimes a sink or swim profession.
The students recently completed their first look into mechanical engineering by building solar-powered amphibious vehicles from kits, and then modifying them to be faster than their classmates’ vehicles. When the vehicles were completed, they raced them in a 20-foot-long swimming pool, which they also constructed.
Photo: Students in BOCES’ New Visions Engineering course constructed their own pool, modified kit-built amphibious solar-powered vehicles, and raced them to test out which modifications worked in a recent classroom experiment. Pictured, from bottom left, are Eric Pait (Putnam Valley), Dominique Wade (Peekskill), Sebastian Restrepo (Ossining), David Sparozic (Mahopac), Brian Richman (Carmel), and Nicholas Lambe (Brewster).
Gerry Markel, who teaches the class along with Carlo Vidrini, says some modifications made by the students included solar reflectors to get more sun and sails to utilize wind power.
Their next step was to construct a pool for the time trials. So they designed and constructed the 20-foot-long pool out of cardboard and plastic, filled it with water, and raced the vehicles. That’s when they saw which modifications helped (some raced much faster) and which had the opposite effect (some modifications actually made the vehicles sink from the extra weight!).
“These students get theoretical knowledge from other classes,” Mr. Vidrini says. “In here, they get to see the applications of engineering.”
New Visions Engineering introduces students to the various fields in the engineering profession. Students get an inside look into fields including civil, mechanical, sustainable, and electrical engineering. They travel to engineering sites and offices, talking to those in the field, and participate in other activities such as building bridges.
“This is their way to explore new territories, not just one aspect of the engineering field,” Mr. Vidrini says. “With this hands-on training, they may change their minds about what types of engineering interest them, or they may solidify their choices.”
All the students are college-bound, and most are interested in pursuing engineering degrees. The students attend BOCES for four hours each day, spending two hours in the engineering class and another two hours taking calculus, physics, and government courses. Enrolled in the class are seniors Nicholas Lambe (Brewster), Eric Pait (Putnam Valley), Sebastian Restrepo (Ossining), Brian Richman (Carmel), David Sparozic (Mahopac), and Dominique Wade (Peekskill).
“This is our first year to offer this class,” Mr. Markel says. “It gives them a taste of engineering and let’s them see what’s involved.”
Article and photo submitted by Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES