Students Compete in Engineering

Students from Mira Costa High School tell Patch they wish more opportunities for math and science events existed.

Students across Southern California this week have attributed their time to letting the games begin in the Raytheon’s Engineer Games in celebration of National Engineers Week.

Raytheon on Wednesday held the 12th annual Engineer Games in nearby El Segundo where students had their math and science skills tested by engineering experts at the space and airborne systems company.

Participating schools included in Palos Verdes, in Manhattan Beach, in Hermosa Beach, in Redondo Beach, and high schools in other Southern California cities.

The Engineer Games event aims to augment an interest in math and science within teenagers, according to Raytheon experts.

"The theme of our event is ‘Discovering Your Hidden Capacity,’ " said electrical engineer Angela Juranek, who also serves as the Engineer Games organizer. "All these kids, they have the capacity for higher learning and to do anything they dream of doing. Raytheon believes we have to make these students excited about science and technology now so that they can be the engineers of tomorrow."

During the Engineer Games, the participating students from 35 high schools were all charged with solving an engineering task in groups and presenting it to Raytheon experts.

This year’s task was to create a capacitor, which could be used as a stud-finder. Students were provided with a partial circuit and upon completion of their capacitor, they were to locate a secret code hidden in a picture of the Mona Lisa.

Juranek said building an interest in science amongst high school students gives them an avenue that deviates from other educational fields.

"Sometimes, kids don’t understand that engineering can be fun and exciting and competitive," Juranek said. "There are so many different aspects of engineering. It’s unlimited."

Having witnessed the progress of the Engineer Games over the years, Juranek said she is confident that with each year comes a greater level of success.

"It’s working and the biggest testament to that fact is that this year, we had 38 schools RSVP," Juranek said. "We usually only have 30."

While Juranek maintains that interest in math and science has increased, some students feel that opportunities to explore those fields have not.

Brian Deemer, a junior at Mira Costa, feels the U.S. might be behind the rest of the world in terms of importance attributed to math and science, he said.

"In other places around the world there is more interest in math and science," Deemer said. "I feel like in the future there will be a lot more jobs opening up in science and the engineering field. So our youth should definitely be more geared towards that."

Jason Kim, also a junior at Mira Costa, said opportunities such as the Engineer Games are few at his high school.

"The administration as a whole, they focus too much on sports," Kim said. "That’s where a lot of the funding goes and they get a lot of the attention. I just don’t think there is enough focus on math and science, so people have to have things like this ... There’s no regular place to go or compete or participate in math and science. That’s partly why I came today."

Events, such as the Engineer games, are of interest because they shed light on math and science professional fields that some students might like to enter as adults, said Bridget Murray, a freshman at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School.

"You have to think around the surface problems," said Murray, who hopes to be a geotechnical engineer. "It’s about patience. You know that you’re going to have to mess up in order to get it right."

Correction: An earlier version of this article reported Raytheon as being located in Torrance. The location is actually in nearby El Segundo. A revision was made at 12:08 p.m. Friday.


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