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West Ashley High School Hosts Wildcat Engineers Week

West Ashley High School Hosts Wildcat Engineers Week

West Ashley High students learn about careers in engineering Charleston, SC – From February 21-24, West Ashley High School hosted Wildcat Engineers Week, a week of opportunities for students to learn more about a career in engineering.

Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), Engineers Week is designed to raise public awareness of engineers’ positive contributions to quality of life and to encourage students to pursue a career in the field of engineering. According to their website, “More than a week-long event, Engineers Week is a year-round commitment to making a difference.”
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“The theme of this year’s Engineers Week is ‘Dream Big’,” said West Ashley High Engineering teacher Dr. Barbara Leonard. “That’s really the message we’re trying to impart.” Wildcat Engineers Week started with guest speaker Nancy Jenkins from the Army Corps of Engineers. Jenkins’ presentation focused on architecture, what architects do, how to become an architect, and popular architecture projects. Jenkins presented to Dr. Leonard’s Civil Engineering and Architecture students. She is a graduate of Middleton High School. “We want to engage students and to have students ask questions and learn as much as they can about engineering while they’re still in high school,” said Dr. Leonard. “I think engineering is a stealth profession.”West Ashley High Hosts Wildcats Engineers Week (02)

The next event included an on-site visit and demonstration from four Boeing engineers. Each engineer talked about his or her career path, the different planes they’re working on, and then collaborated with the students to complete an activity. The students were divided into groups and had to make a wing of an airplane out of index card-size slips of paper and scotch tape. The wing was placed between two chairs while items like pencils, pens, and coins were placed on top of them to test the durability and strength of the wing each group created. West Ashley High Hosts Wildcats Engineers Week (03)

“The Ultimate Driving Machine,” a BMW smart car, made a special appearance on West Ashley High’s campus as well. Students were able to explore the interior of the car and learn more about the special engine under the hood.

West Ashley High Hosts Wildcats Engineers Week (04)On Thursday, students went on a field trip to the Joint Base Charleston where they took part in a special Tuskegee Airmen presentation. While there, students listened to a presentation about the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, took a tour of all the C-17 training facilities on the base, and spoke with representatives from different colleges and aviation careers that set up tables in one of the hangars. Two Tuskegee Airmen were present during the festivities. Students from elementary and middle schools within Charleston County School District also attended the event. International orange, the color of engineering, was worn by many of those who participated in the week’s events.
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The final Wildcats Engineers Week event consisted of Dr. Leonard and Mr. Robert Stone’s engineering students displaying their course projects in the Career and Technology Education (CTE) hallway. These creations impressed many attendees of West Ashley High and were the perfect way to demonstrate the impact that Engineers Week has on students.

Thanks to Donnie Newton, West Ashley HS Public Relations Coordinator for submitting this story.

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West Ashley High School Robotics Team Earns 1st Place at Regional Qualifying Event

Mr. Nicholas Holmes,  Mathematics and Mechatronics Teacher, and Robotics and Trebuchet Team Advisor at West Ashley High School, provided the following report on the WAHS VEX Robotics Team’s success in their most recent event on December 10, 2016 at the College Park/Cane Bay Regional Qualifier in Ladson.

964607df-vex-logo1All 4 teams from West Ashley HS competed against programs from high schools throughout the state, including Goose Creek, Bluffton, Beaufort, Columbia, and Orangeburg.

Two WAHS teams were part of the 3-team alliance that won the tournament.  WAHS students also won the Excellence Award, Design Award, Programming Skills Competition, and Driver Skills Competition.wahs-2

“Through our teams’ success at the event, we earned the opportunity to move on to the SC State Championship and the CREATE VRC National Championship in Council Bluffs, Iowa.” said Holmes. 

The WAHS team was successful in the event due to their excellent teamwork. From the design to the drivers on the day of the event, it was a team effort. One specific factor in robotics is the code the programs the actions and abilities of the robot. WAHS students used a multidimensional array systems to calibrate our motors in real time.  This code recalibrates our motors every 50 milliseconds to make sure they are doing precisely what we want them to do.  Even if an outside force acts on our robot, gyroscopes, accelerometers, encoders, and sonar sensors will reposition the robot so that it will continue to complete the required task without fail.

“The coding used for this event was an original idea by one of our senior students, Noah Combs.  He is also the driver of our best robot and the winner of the skills challenges and excellence award.  Noah came to me one day, after leaving his AP Computer Science class, and told me that he thinks we can use an array set to calibrate the motors.  Motor calibration is something the team had been battling for over a year.

Within 30 minutes, Noah had scratched out a basic code that did the job we have been trying to figure out since the beginning of last season!!” said Mr. Holmes.  WAHS robots have the ability to operate our robot at an advanced rate of precision.

“We are thankful to have engineers serving as mentors for our team from the Army Corps of Engineers and Cummins Charleston. We also remain extremely thankful for the financial support provided to our team from the Charleston chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.” added Mr. Holmes.

Thank you to Mr. Holmes, his amazing students, and all the parents and other terrific supporters of the award winning West Ashley High School Robotics Team!