STEM students learn real-world technical skills during internship

STEM High School student Jay Tayade demonstrates how his team’s solar-powered light tower works to the crowd Wednesday afternoon. - Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter
STEM High School student Jay Tayade demonstrates how his team’s solar-powered light tower works to the crowd Wednesday afternoon.
— image credit: Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter

A recent partnership with Genie in Redmond has given students at STEM High School in Redmond first-hand experience in tackling real-world problems.

The 16 students who were part of the school’s fall internship program presented their work Wednesday afternoon to school staff and district administration as well as parents and Ron DeFeo, CEO of Terex, Genie’s parent company.

The students were tasked to design and build a scale model of a solar light tower that could be used on a construction site. There were four teams with four students each, led by engineers from Genie. While the students were assigned the same project, each team was given specific requirements to meet such as geographic locations where the light tower would be used or having the light tower being partially powered by diesel fuel. In addition to meeting these requirements, the teams also had to do it all within a $9,000 budget.

In some cases, the students realized the requirements they were given were impossible to meet so they either had to find a solution or renegotiate the terms so they could meet them.

“And that’s OK,” DeFeo told the students after their presentations.

While the students learned many technical skills during the project, they said there were also more general skills they gained from the experience such as teamwork, time management, delegating responsibilities, utilizing people’s abilities and more.

The students also expressed their gratitude for the Genie employees and their help.

“(And for) believing in us even when we didn’t believe in ourselves,” said junior Hana Keller.

The students weren’t the only ones to learn from the internship program. Co-lead Raj Nand from Genie said the adults did as well, admitting that they did not know what they were getting into and before this, did not know much about solar power either.

“I think we can say we learned from the kids, as well,” Nand said. “By teaching this class, we have learned a lot.”

Nand, who is a father, said for him personally, the lessons went beyond the technical, as well.

“You guys have made me a better parent,” he told the students. “You guys have taught me to be more patient.”

After seeing the students’ presentations, DeFeo said it was inspiring to see what they had done and it has him feeling optimistic for the future as “these young people are learning to be problem solvers.”

“I think there’s a lot to be proud of,” he told the crowd after the presentations. “There’s a lot to be hopeful for.”

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