Michigan Tech hosts High School Engineering Olympics

High school students from across the U.P. made their way through the snow to Michigan Tech for the 23rd Annual Engineering Olympics earlier today.

ABC 10’s Keweenaw Bureau Reporter Sam Ali was there to watch as some of the brightest minds in the region went to work.

Six high schools competed in six different competitions as a part of Michigan Tech’s Engineering Olympics.

Event Coordinator Cody Kangas says he noticed that the projects always get better every year.

“We’ve tried to insert a little bit of energy into this event. Give it some more engaging enthusiasm for these students because they’re competing. They’re coming here and we want to reframe what being a competitive engineer is all about,” Kangas said.

One of the competitions involved creating bridges made of toothpicks and seeing how much weight they can hold. Some didn’t have much success but Lake-Linden Hubbell High School physics teacher Clint Heikkila says it’s a lot harder than it looks.

“They have to meet a lot of their certain dimensions and everything a bridge has to meet so it’s a lot of measuring as they go. In the end, you really don’t know how it’s going to go until you put weights on them,” said Heikkila.

Another competition featured teams creating a mechanical robot where a ball that was dropped would be hit by tennis racket as soon as it fell down. I spoke to members of the Ironwood High School team and they said it was a challenge putting it together.

“The hardest part would be the mousetrap. It’s so tedious, you have to get all the lines specifically the same length, the right length otherwise, it won’t work,” said one of the students.

The competitve nature of all the events brings these students together to learn not only engineering concepts but how to work as a team.

“We celebrate athletics. We have these big competitions. It’s March Madness right now. Why don’t we have something like that for engineering?” Kangas said.

And who knows? Maybe these creations are the future of robotic basketball players. Or maybe not.