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four people watching a wind turbine blade

Kody Wakumoto, a mechanical engineering student, and three middle school students wait to collect data from their wind turbine blade design. (Photo Credit: Cheryl Sato Ishii)

teacher and student blowing on two anemometer designs

Susan Dougherty, a math teacher from Āliamanu Middle School, and one of her students experiment with two different anemometer designs. (Photo Credit: Josiah Endo)

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Engineering and STEM Pre-Academy presented the second annual Research and Engineering Design Skills Clinic for Students and Teachers on the UH Mānoa campus in September.

The event brought engineering design concepts into the hands of Hawaiʻi’s public middle school teachers and students. While students were inspired to improve the quality of their research and engineering design projects, teachers had an opportunity to see the process modeled by UH faculty and engineering students for their classrooms.

Participants were able to hear directly from researchers about their projects and practice the same processes, skills and collaborative review that are vital to university-level research.

“It was incredible to watch my students design and collaborate together,” said Regina Wilson, a science teacher at Kapolei Middle School. “The engineering design process affords students an opportunity to explore options and increase curiosity. My students were encouraged to talk and think like engineers—and these middle schoolers truly valued the interest that the college students had in their designs and the feedback that was offered.”

Attendees at the event included 56 students and teachers from:

  • Āliamanu Middle School
  • Highlands Intermediate School
  • Jarrett Middle School
  • Kahuku High and Intermediate School
  • Kāneʻohe Elementary School
  • Kapolei Middle School
  • King Intermediate School
  • Nānākuli High and Intermediate School
  • Washington Middle School

A centerpiece of this year’s clinic was the urban wind generator design challenge. Students and teachers were tasked to design, build, test and then redesign a blade assembly for a vertical wind turbine.

Aaron Hanai, assistant professor of math and sciences at Kapiʻolani Community College, and Matsu Thornton, UH Mānoa graduate student in electrical engineering, led participants through a presentation that introduced the science behind turbine blade design while sharing their own academic and professional expertise.

“The team designed the clinic to provide students and teachers an opportunity to develop research and engineering design skills for lifelong learning and success in STEM professions,” said Davin Sasaki, STEM Pre-Academy project manager.

Read the full story at the UH Research and Innovation website.

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