The Ottumwa Courier

Education

February 3, 2014

Principles of engineering requires problem solving

OTTUMWA — In Ryan Johnston's Principles of Engineering class Monday, the eight students were faced with a variety of problems that could only be solved with their engineering skills.

Part of the Project Lead the Way program, this engineering class is designed to combine designing and programming to give students a firm foundation in the basics.

"Some people go to college and take an engineering class and then realize it's not what they want to do," Johnston said. "Here, they can get a taste of what it's like and see if they really want to do this."

Almost the entire class plans to go into engineering programs in college, even those freshmen and sophomores in the class. Johnston says this course will prepare them for what they'll face at the collegiate level.

During class Monday, all of the skills they've learned so far this year all came together in their group projects.

• Seniors Kelly Martin and Lucas Lunsford chose to create a robot arm that would move tools in and out of surgery. It was programmed with three ranges of motion: pivoting like a shoulder, extension and rotation like an elbow and the claw movement of a hand. To go one step further, they programmed it to all be controlled by remote.

"We had to change the elbow because it wasn't strong enough," Martin said. "It just needed more torque for the top part of the arm."

This trial-and-error method is a great way for the students to really problem solve on a practical level.

"I feel like this is a lot more hands-on," Lunsford said.

• For senior Leilah Armstrong and junior Andrew Ware, there were several surprises along the way with their soccer ball detection device. Originally, the pair was going to use two sonars to tell the difference between the ball, a shoe and the goalie.

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