Building a speaker you can plug into your IPod from only paper plates and magnets? While it sounds like something straight out of “MacGyver,” high school students from all over the area accomplished that and much more during this summer’s Project Engineering — a three-week program offered through Haddonfield Memorial High School designed to educate students about the fields and applications that engineering encompasses.
The three-week course focused on two major elements, according to Haddonfield Memorial High School physics teacher Griffin Kidd.
The first introduced students to the existing fields of engineering, such as civil engineering, bio-medical engineering and environmental engineering.
“It is such a broad field, one that a lot of students can find their place in,” Kidd said.
Then comes the second part of the program, which focused on projects tied directly to the specific area of engineering that they have previously reviewed.
Not stopping at speakers, this summer’s group of young engineers constructed solar-powered racecars, bridges comprised solely of K’Nex, and even built and programed robots.
“It was a real collaborative effort between three and four design teams,” Kidd said.
Running from July 8 to July 25, Kidd said this year’s group of students had a natural curiosity in science — something that was even more apparent when the group visited the Temple University Hospital to witness firsthand the da Vinci Surgery System, a surgical robot responsible for completing the most delicate of surgeries, using precise and minimally invasive incisions.
“They were blown away. It was an amazing experience,” Kidd said. “Both the parents and the students were pretty impressed by it.”
Working in partnership with Drexel University on the program, Kidd also had the assistance of Ph.D fellowship student, Sin Park, during the length of the course.
Together, Kidd and Park were able to walk the students through each and every project so they could garner a greater understanding and appreciation for the discipline.
“Instead of just hearing the term, tied to whatever job, they got to hear about it and go experience it,” said Kidd, who explained that informing the students about what kind of jobs are available for various types of engineers is only a small fraction of what the students experience.
For last year’s field trip, Project Engineering took a ride to Atlantic City to tour the municipal plant, which is powered entirely by a turbine.
“It’s a pretty significant chunk of time,” Kidd said. “We do quite a bit through the course of the summer.”