On October 24, 2009 a group of mostly junior and seniors from Andrew Hill High School were given a unique look at several facets of Cogswell’s engineering program. Twenty-nine students studying Design Tech, Physics and AP/IB Biology found out what it takes to:
- Design robots whose purpose is to perform a specific task,
- Create a prototype solar panel destined to be a portable power source,
- Become a Boeing Company vendor and complete projects for them and
- Use game engine technologies to enter the serious game industry.
During the different sessions students were encouraged to ask the questions – lunch might hinge on their participation. In addition students had the chance to control the robots, explore the programming devices, touch the solar panels and watch the electric meter register current when the group followed the inventors outside to put the device through its paces.
Dr. Hadi Aggoune welcomed the future entrepreneurs and scientists by explaining what career paths a student might expect to follow by completing one of our engineering degree programs. Computer Engineering leads to control systems and instrumentation, embedded systems and robotics or networks and communication. Software engineering focuses on software development, simulation and animation, graphics and shaders or game programmers. Digital Arts Engineers become game designers or technical artists and technical directors.
The robots rolled out next prepared to respond to the programs their Cogswell masters had developed for them. Whether they were fetching, chasing light or avoiding obstacles through sound or touch Cogswell students had to create the set of instructions and produce the microprocessor that would drive the device.
The solar panel demonstration began as the senior project of Dean Sala as he was pursuing his second degree at Cogswell. “The school is really flexible about working with you on your senior project,” said Sala. “I had this idea for making a solar device that you can carry around and can charge computers, phones and other small devices. It was exciting to bring together what I learned in school and turn it into something that works.”
A piece of the PV cell was passed around so students could see how thin the material really is. Dean explained how the cells are treated so they can be linked together and the process for hooking them up to a battery to produce electricity.
After lunch Dr. Aggoune showed a video that Cogswell students contributed to as one of the projects they are under contract to the Boeing Company to develop. The scenarios are produced by the Engineering Simulation and Animation Laboratory (ESAL) at Cogswell Polytechnical College and the lab in Kirkland, WA. Each of the different scenarios the Lab has work on highlights future technologies being developed by the Boeing Company.
Finally students listened to a panel discussion about the burgeoning Serious Game Industry. By definition these games focus on a purpose other than pure entertainment. Industries like defense, education, scientific exploration, health care, emergency management, city planning, engineering, religion and politics are the primary markets for these games.
“The goal is to help students understand the depth of the choices available to them as they select a career path,” said Dr. Aggoune “and how the emerging technologies are constantly creating new and exciting opportunities.”
-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement