Dublin High School Entrepreneur Competition Showcases Student Engineering Champions
On the same night that the basketball Golden State Warriors hosted Game 1 of their NBA Final series in Oakland, another group of Dublin High School “champions” were displaying and pitching their own scientific innovations. It occurred on Thursday and the event was titled the Dublin High School Engineering & Design Academy Entrepreneur Competition & Showcase. For the third consecutive year, the objective was to feature students that had two weeks to develop/deliver concepts that would not only address a current day problem, but to challenge them to ensure that this idea would be marketable in today’s economy.
As a first-time observer to this event, it was a fascinating evening. Students were encouraged to work in groups or they would be allowed to work alone. They are all aspiring students enrolled in classes led by Eugene Chou, Dave Uken and Katina Lewis. While the students have been aware of the end of year competition, the actual event has been reserved for the last few weeks of the academic calendar. Mr. Uken explained to us that this was done by intent as it takes almost a full year for the students to understand engineering concepts and for them to be able to be put them into practical terms. Thus, the student teams were given a two week period to develop a concept, refine it and to ensure that it could become a marketable idea.
The night was remarkable – perhaps resembling a Science Fair 2.0. Of the close to 40 concepts that were submitted, 11 of them were granted the opportunity to provide a live presentation with accompanying ppt. slides. Further, a panel of 10 industry judges were present to observe the pitches and then to participate in a Q & A session. Upon completion of the presentations, the judges convened in private to discuss the merits of the finalists and then to determine the final award winners.
Regardless of outcome, we observed many inventive prospects. Some of these included: A Drop Clock which would force an over-sleeper to capture an item before a clock alarm could be suspended, or the School Box, which is an all-in-one device that can house all necessary tools to function while at school and to HelpMe! an online application that can readily report the instance of bullying to proper school authorities. In sum, all of the concepts were well thought out and it created another level of thinking when one must consider that these ideas must include market-feasibility and cost relativity.
We had the opportunity to discuss this program with the D Engineering & Design Academy Coordinator, Eugene Chou. She then shared some of her insights.
OneDublin.org: We were told by several in attendance tonight that this event was much larger than last year. What can you attribute this to?
Eugene Chou: “We have grown in the number of engineering sections this year, so overall we have more students involved in the project. In addition, our students know and anticipate this project each year and have really taken this project more seriously overall. “
OneDublin.org: All of the submissions were very creative, but there appeared to be an emphasis on current circumstances in the Bay Area – including water conservation. Did you encourage this theme or was it a purely organic movement by the students?
Chou: “We give the students free-range in ideas so this was not something that was pushed by instructors. Overall, our curriculum definitely has an environmental theme – students build solar/hydrogen vehicles, do and upcycling project, learn about how engineering can impact the environment. I believe that most of our students are interested in solving real problems that will drive positive change in their lives and the lives of others. I think that the water conservation issue is well-publicized in the Bay Area so it was natural for many students to be interested in this topic.”
OneDublin.org: The event was largely successful due to the local judges and sponsors. Further, the deliberation period extended outside of the printed schedule. Share an insight as to how difficult it was for the committee to determine the final three highest awards.
Chou: “Because we had so many more teams this year than last year, there was a lot for the judges to have to digest and sift through. The judges liked many of the ideas and were individually passionate about certain ones, which can make deliberations more difficult. The process started with identifying the top five teams and then narrowed it to three. The top three scored so closely for many judges it was difficult to find specific aspects to rank above others.”
One by one, each of the project groups used their time period to present their concepts and subsequently, the panel of judges provided their feedback or asked questions. At the same time, during the private judging period, some of the inventive students used their smart phones or laptops to monitor the progress of the Warriors game. At long last, the results were in and were then revealed.
The final tabulation yielded these results:
- First Place: Home Water Filtration System – Aileen Jeong, Jamie Jin, Hanna Li and Neetika Patel
- Second Place: FlowTouch – Joseph Liu, Lemar Popal and Armaan Sengupta
- Third Place: HelpMe! – Vishnu Chadalavada, David Gilman, Shiroman Singh and Sarang Vadali
In all, it was a night of celebration as this ongoing program is gaining great traction and interest from students that have an interest in the sciences and engineering concepts. We would like to commend DHS staff, students and their families for supporting this noble effort. While the Warriors may become champions on the court, these students will have the opportunity to do the same in industry someday.