On Saturday, an engineering expo took place at the North Augusta Recreation Center.
Inside this room at North Augusta High School, something amazing is happening. Two years ago, a teacher with a background in engineering, had a vision. Jane Monroe formed student engineering teams.
“We started with 35 students and that made up three engineering student teams with four engineers. Now this year we have 55 students and we have 15 engineers,” Monroe said.
A couple of nights a week and on Saturdays, the students, their teacher and mentors build robots. Then they compete against other teams. In year one, they won state and then it was off to Texas.
“I had the opportunity to go down to San Antonio to compete in the Super Regionals and it was very interesting to be able to compete with so many bright young people and just see their designs and learn from it,” said North Augusta High School student Seth Kantz.
They’re sharing what they’ve learned with younger kids by taking the robots to elementary schools.
Kristen Hurst is happy to talk about her future plans. She’s graduating from high school a year early and already knows what she wants.
“I love North Augusta. My dad’s actually an engineer at SRS and I hope to be out there with him one day,” Hurst said.
Miles Lloyd, who is headed to Clemson next year, credits the program for pointing him in the right direction.
“I do not think I would have been as interested in doing anything in engineering without having a hands on experience, with working with the robots and different mentors that we’ve had from around the community,” Lloyd said.
The program gets no state funding. It’s made possible by donations and these students are grateful to local engineering companies for support.
But they will tell you much more is needed. Dorian Scott, who’ll major in political science at USC, hopes to one day influence state lawmakers to get behind this program.
“I have a love for expanding our community; I think our community is great. I think that going forward, our community can only benefit from having more student engineering teams, and encouraging children to go into engineering,” Scott said.
That’s exactly what their teacher has in mind.
If you’d like to help the program expand, contact your local state representatives. Share this story. If you’re an local engineer: volunteer to help.