Engineering students inspire high schoolers with capstone projects

Physics students listening to FIU electrical and computer engineering students present their senior design projects at Jose Marti MAST Academy.

Before FIU, Andres Archila attended Robert Morgan High School, where every student was required to select a career academy to be a part of. Archila’s friends chose the automotive academy and he thought he had as well, until he was told he had selected the engineering academy. Darian Perez moved from Florida to Georgia and applied to a school he thought offered architecture, but turns out it did not. His advisor recommended engineering and he went for it. A few semesters later, he moved back to Miami and was accepted into the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

From left to right: Bryan Naranjo, Maikel Oliva, Juan Hurtado, Fernando Lerggios and Maria Romanowski (Team 7: Skyleep) presenting their senior design project to high school students at Jose Marti MAST Academy.

Archila and Perez accidentally fell into engineering and fell in love with it. This past spring semester, Archila, Perez and more than 90 electrical and computer engineering students presented their senior design projects to local high schoolers, hoping to ignite in the young students a love of the discipline.

Divided into 20 teams, the graduating seniors left FIU’s Engineering Center for a few hours and visited schools throughout the community – from Hialeah to Kendall. Two of the teams, Team 7: “Skyleep” and Team 8: “Where Wear,” visited Jose Marti MAST Academy and presented their projects to a physics class. “Where Wear” is a GPS-based device the team developed that allows a person to monitor the location of their pets and children; “Skyleep” is a device that detects and records when sleepwalking occurs.

Not a single cell phone was in the hands of the high school physics students. They gave their full attention to the engineering students, asking a handful of questions and even providing suggestions.

“These presentations have opened up the eyes of several of my students. They envision engineering just to be about coding computers or building a car. The idea that engineering is everywhere really inspired my students after the presentations,” said Jennifer Kaelin, physics teacher at Jose Marti MAST Academy.

Engineering student, Stanley Sossou, explaining the Where Wear device his team created to a physics student.

Four other engineering teams (Team 5: “Auto Shutters,” Team 6: “Wearable Alcohol Sensor,” Team 15: “Multi-Sense” and Team 17: “Bioz”) visited a classroom of more than 20 STEM students at G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School.

The teams demonstrated their projects and provided students with tips on how to prepare for college and be ahead of the curve.

“Professors will be impressed if you go into college with some knowledge. I recommend going online and taking coding courses after school,” said Edward “Buddy” Corlett, computer engineering student. “Coursera.org is a great website where they have a four-week long coding course and allows the user to build video games.”

FIU students also benefited from the interaction. “I attended a high school where nobody cared about anything. Presentations meant nap time. Presenting the project that my teammates and I had worked on for the past two semesters to students who expressed interest in the STEM field rather than having a negative view on math and science because it is considered ‘too hard’ was really rewarding,” said Georges Nicoli, electrical engineering student.

From left to right: Georges Nicoli, Jose DeAndre, Rolando de la Osa, Kevin Riveron and Augusto Torres after presenting their project titled, “Auto Shutters” to students at G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School.

“As an FIU alumni, I love the partnership that G. Holmes Braddock Senior High has with FIU’s College of Engineering & Computing,” said Geraldine Horvath, STEM and physical science teacher at G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School. As a STEM teacher, exposing my students to the different fields in engineering and showing them that they too can become these amazing, creative problem solvers of the future is exciting.”

Participating high schools included American Senior High School, G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School, Jose Marti MAST Academy, Latin Builders Association (LBA) Academy Charter High School, St. Brendan High School and TERRA Environmental Research Institute.


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