When Crestwood Superintendent Joseph Gorham recently toured the high school, he happened upon a group of students creating something unusual –a turbo jet engine with plans to install it into a Hyundai Accent car. The project, generated by the school’s small engineering club, so impressed the superintendent that he asked the four students involved to present their plans at the Jan. 19 school board meeting. They complied and came dressed in their best suits.
“Because this group of individuals represent the best that we have, and not just academically, but in the way that they handle themselves, their level of maturity,” Gorham stated of why he asked the four to go before the school board.
The four seniors that comprise the engineering club –Ian Beach, Erik Thomas, Ky Lamarca, and Quinn Roberts –then modestly discussed their plans with the board and audience and told of their experience on a recent visit to Hazleton’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math School.
The goal of their project is to explore alternative energy, while preparing them for college engineering courses and helping to build their resumes, related Thomas. Dr. Wes Grebski, an engineering professor at Penn State Hazleton, has been working closely with the group on the project and providing them with a college-level engineering course that will help them after they graduate.
It was Beach who came up with the idea for turbo-powering a vehicle, Thomas recalled. “He said, ‘Why don’t we build a jet engine and put it in a car.’ It was kind of a joke at first,” Thomas said, but then the group actually went with the idea.
A Hyundai Accent, its engine unusable, was donated for free to the engineering club by a local family. Other funds for the project –the group has close to $700 collected –came from donations from local businesses and from the Crestwood Industrial Park.
Showing a diagram, Beach explained how the four have been designing the gas-turbine jet engine, creating it first on paper and later working on it in the school’s metal shop. While the jet engine is being created independently of the car, the group hopes to soon install it in place of the vehicle’s old engine, with their ultimate goal to see the car run.
Beach pointed out that safety precautions were an important part of planning the project and the students not only have fire extinguishers and first-aid kits nearby as they’re working, but also made use of flame-retardant jumpsuits.
“It’s really a STEM project at its best,” Gorham stated. He then questioned the group about their time at Hazleton’s STEM school, asking how it compares to the program at Crestwood.
All four students had a positive experience at Hazleton, noting how impressed they were with everything from the other students’ dedication to engineering to the learning environment provided that fostered collaborative thinking.
Roberts noted that he was impressed with the Hazleton students’ level of responsibility and work ethic, as they didn’t have alarm bells to indicate that it was time to change classes, rather the students had to keep tabs on the time on their own.
Lamarca suggested that Crestwood should have more focus on science, technology, engineering, and math-related curriculums rather than just on sports and the arts. He noted how well-rounded he is, participating in all aspects of Crestwood’s music extracurriculars, from band to chorus, as well as playing lacrosse and other sports. He went on that what’s offered here for STEM-minded students should be expanded.
All four students, however, who joined the engineering club early in their Crestwood careers, agreed that the projects they’ve been able to create and troubleshoot, and the knowledge they’ve acquired in their nearly four years here and in the club, have prepared them for college and the future.