Uxbridge Students Earn State Engineering Accolades

Uxbridge Students Earn State Engineering Accolades

A team of three Uxbridge High School students earned first-place in the state of Massachusetts as part of an engineering competition sponsored by the Mass STEM Hub and conducted in conjunction with industry professionals from a variety of STEM firms in Massachusetts.

The student team of Lex Lovell, Julia Philbrook, and John Tasick earned the win for their design, not only as the best submission from UHS but from across the state of Massachusetts, which includes more than 100 secondary schools. As students have been learning in the Engineering Pathway at UHS, feedback and iteration are key components to the engineering design process, through which students get feedback from people with different viewpoints and skills, particularly those with expertise in the solution being developed. This particular challenge involved feedback from more than 200 industry professionals on more than 500 pieces of student work, representing more than 2000 students from across the Commonwealth.

“I could not be prouder of our program and all our participants, in particular these three amazing students,” said UHS Principal Michael Rubin. “That UHS students are among the top future engineers and innovators in the Commonwealth is a credit to the program and the support that so many have put in the hands of our school and educators.”

Julia, Lex, and John are students in Mr. Michael Smutok’s Computer Integrated Manufacturing Class, the third of four classes in the Manufacturing Engineering Innovation Pathway, which merges technical and academic coursework with post-secondary outcomes, such as college and job placement. All of the teams that submitted a design, received specific feedback from industry professionals on their process flow diagrams, technical processes, and prototype drawings, as well as their coding process for their robot.  Mr. Smutok himself is a Project Lead the Way Master Teacher and one of six teachers at UHS involved in some form of engineering course, which also includes Biomedical Science and Computer Science.

In the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) courses, high school students dig deep into the engineering design process, applying math, science, and engineering standards to hands-on projects. After learning about engineering design and manufacturing, they apply that knowledge to work in teams to design, test, and improve an engineering process.  The Industry Connects process provides an opportunity for students to share their work with an authentic industry audience. These connections help make coursework more motivating, engaging, and meaningful.

“Student Industry Connects provides an applied learning opportunity for students to see connections between what they are learning in the classroom and the professional world,” said Leslie Knight, Teaching and Learning Manager for Mass STEM Hub. “They get to share their work with an authentic audience and receive feedback from professionals working in STEM fields. These connections help make coursework more motivating, engaging, and meaningful for students and provide an opportunity for industry volunteers to help inspire the next generation of STEM professionals.”

For the project submitted, an example of the feedback provided by an engineer at Smith and Nephew to the UHS students included: “The overall project flow, engineered strategy to create a successful product and amount of technical work required for this project is very impressive. The process flow charts are a key documentation practice in any engineering company.”

“It is certainly one thing to have your work evaluated by your teacher, and quite another to be evaluated at this level by industry professionals,” Mr. Rubin said. “This brings our partnerships with industry to life and helps students see relevance in what they are learning. We are grateful for the opportunities our partners at Mass STEM Hub and Project Lead the Way have opened up for the students of Uxbridge.”

Mass STEM Hub is a program of the One8 Foundation that partners with schools to implement high-quality, applied learning programs. Their mission is to provide schools with access to and support for premier STEM programming that engages students and prepares them for 21st century careers. We identify proven programs, develop supports to help ensure high-quality adoption, and create complementary offerings (e.g., trainings, events) to supercharge the impact.

Supporting schools’ adoption and quality implementation of Project Lead The Way is the first Mass STEM Hub initiative. PLTW is a premier STEM curriculum and PD provider with a proven ability to dramatically shift classroom practice, transform the teaching experience, and improve students’ interest and aptitude in STEM. PLTW has grown from a high school engineering program to offering comprehensive PreK-12 pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, balancing the rigor and engagement needed to have a real impact for students.