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Center Grove students design new products start to finish

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F or years, Brett Austin encountered the same problem while golfing.

The Center Grove High School senior would be on the golf course when his clubs would get dirty during a round, affecting his shot.

“I have an issue personally with getting my clubs dirty and forgetting to clean them before I go back out,” he said.

Austin solved his problem during an engineering class this year. He and his class partner, Mariah Smith, researched, designed and made a device that attaches to a golf cart and can be used to clean golf clubs.

Here’s how their product works: Essentially a box with little bristles, there is enough room for a golf club to be inserted and scrubbed down.

The duo designed the prototype as part of an engineering design and development class at Center Grove High School. The class is meant to give students interested in engineering careers early experience in coming up with ideas and designing and implementing them.

Each student had to come up with a problem that they encountered in their life and think of a product to address it.

Students were responsible for the product every step of the way. They searched the Internet to see if someone else already had a patent; and if so, they had to design something else. Residents were surveyed to see if they would buy the product the students made.

The students used computer programs to create three-dimensional drawings of what they thought their products would look like, and they had to supply the materials needed or ask businesses for help.

Their experiences were meant to mirror what their job would be like if they were an engineer, teacher Cory Cooper said.

“These are all things you would do as a real engineer,” he said.

This week, their products were tested by residents and local business leaders.

A woman questioned how much a grill strapped to the side of a boat would cost in a store and where it would be sold.

Ryan Leser, a senior, explained to the woman that he loved boating, but leaving the boat in the middle of the day to eat a hot lunch cut into his boating time. He wanted to find a way to have a portable grill that would hang off a boat, and his grill boat boot was the answer.

In another part of the room, students explained how they came up with an idea to section off water bottles in a cooler.

Zach Riley, a senior, remembered how cluttered coolers get with water bottles, soda cans and ice. So he made a product that holds water bottles and allows for stacking and organizing in the cooler.

Another group designed a motor that would be strapped to a car to charge a car battery or a cellphone.

Students take the class as part of Project Lead the Way, a national movement designed to get more students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses, Cooper said.

The two-semester class is spent researching and building their products. Students learned the basic 12-step process of engineering and what working in that field might be like, senior Evan Liang said.

At least 20 ideas had to be submitted, so if one didn’t work, it was on to the next. All the ideas had to be able to be feasibly made in a classroom setting, Cooper said. Ideas involving work a high school student couldn’t do or materials they couldn’t get were crossed off, he said.

“Can you make it with the resources and materials in the community?” Cooper asked. He added, “The idea of the class is that kids will design something that companies would want.”

Once the students build their product, they show it off and can decide whether they want to patent the idea or seek help from a company in getting it on the market.

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