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River Falls High School students compete for CVTC DesignX award

Friday, May 13, 2022

River Falls High School students compete for CVTC DesignX award

Image: River Falls High School students compete for CVTC DesignX award

From left, Kenji Lor, a junior, looks on as his teammates John Sullivan, junior; Toby Reule, junior; and Owen Gulick, junior; all students from River Falls High School, assess a glitch in their mechanical design. They figured it out in time to win first place at Chippewa Valley Technical College’s DesignX competition, recently. Zoe Chamberlin, senior, part of the first-place team, is not pictured.

To some it may look like a jumble of wires and metal. To students at River Falls High School studying applied engineering, the contraptions were means to an end.

The 11 students traveled to Chippewa Valley Technical College Friday to compete in the college’s first DesignX competition. The goal was to put a cap on a film canister. The young designers showcased their vision and talent in utilizing a four-bar mechanism to achieve the result.

Toby Ruele, a high school junior, said his team of five determined how they were going to complete the task, and then it was time to use their additive manufacturing skills to design and 3D print parts for their machine.

Their teacher, Jared GrothOlson, said a competition each year is one of the students’ major projects.

“We try to do things for the community. They tell us what they need and we go through the design process, determine a timeframe and generate ideas,” he said.

Then they get to work.

Mahmood Lahroodi, mechanical design instructor at CVTC, said the DesignX competition is meant to promote additive manufacturing, mechanical design and STEM. It’s an opportunity to give high school students a way to show their skills.

“I think they are learning how to communicate to accomplish their tasks,” Lahroodi said during the event. “Sometimes they need to think critically, and communication is not easy.”

It’s also a way for students to understand what current industries need in the way of mechanical design.

“We have to match what industry wants,” Lahroodi said. “It’s difficult to learn from a textbook in these situations. Students need to be in the environment to learn.”

GrothOlson said project-based learning is key for his students.

“Ten years ago we didn’t have the capabilities the students do now,” said GrothOlson, who previously taught physics. “Students can do things in high school at an industry level.”

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