Positive Impact gives students opportunities for research, design

by Jacquelin Camacho, Staff Reporter

positiveimpactrp1WHS hosted the Midwest Research Competition: Positive Impact, an engineering contest that allows high school students to take on real world challenges through research, design and presentation, on April 12. One WHS team placed third in the Next Generation’s Innovator Challenge (NGIC) of the competition.

Omar Joya and Kat Dobrowski, seniors, and Cole Dammeier, sophomore, competed in designing an operating room that minimizes the risk of infections for patients. They focused their design on air ventilation systems that allow an increased amount of airflow into operating rooms.

“The highlight of the day for me was going up there to present and knowing that we made it to the finals. When I learned that Wheeling made it into the top 6, I was both nervous and excited,” Joya said.

Dan Crabbe, senior, and Anne Janulis and Christian Galvan, juniors, also competed in NGIC. They designed a prosthetic leg with a lower cost that could help amputees in third world countries obtain prosthesis.

“Our product and the research involved only skimmed the surface on how we could impact third world countries. Considering I will be majoring in engineering physics, I can utilize this experience as the beginning of my educational career,” Crabbe said.

Dobrowski summarized this event as an opportunity for students to make their mark on real world issues.

“All high school students should be encouraged to participate in an event like this because it is an opportunity for students to look at the world beyond their current environment,” Dobrowski said.

Michael Geist and Jeff Bott, engineering teachers, served as coaches for WHS, helping the students understand software, find industry mentors, and prepare for their presentations.  Mr. Geist felt the most proud of how the students took a lot of time working on their projects in addition to other after school activities.

“Innovation is researching what others have done and building on that. Working in an engineering field is about collaborating with others,” Mr. Geist said.

Mr. Geist hopes that the students use this experience to understand what the engineering field is like.

“When [students are] choosing careers, part of their plan should include how they can make an impact. It should not be about the money or status, it should be more profound. I hope that seeing what they are capable of, doing so early in high school, helps them choose their careers,” Mr. Geist said.

NGIC first place winners, Justin Markel, Beny Romo and Jon Kuruc of South Elgin High School designed a prosthetic leg for their project. Their prosthetic leg had a design that allows amputees to utilize it for multiple physical activities. Their research focused on cycling and running.

“It took us six months to prepare our project, and we will be continuing to work with companies to actually create the prosthetic leg,” Markel said.  “It solidified what we want to do, encouraged teamwork, and allowed us to build important connections,” Markel said.

This is the second year that WHS has hosted the Midwest Research Competition.

“Hosting this event gives WHS a good reputation and shows that it is really enforcing STEM. I overheard a coach saying ‘do you do this every day?’ He was joking of course, but it really shows that WHS is showing its leadership in STEM,” Joya said.

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