Local Harker School students test engineering chops at national competition

Courtesy of Roxana Yang
Harker School’s nationally competitive engineering team prepares at home for the TEAMS event in Orlando.

Los Altos Hills teen Jackie Yang captained an engineering team all the way to Orlando, Fla., last month for the national TEAMS competition, challenging students’ prowess in tests of engineering aptitude, mathematics and science.

The team, comprising Yang and fellow rising sophomores Allison Jia, Cynthia Chen, Eileen Li, Sachin Shah, Emily Liu and Vani Mohindra, earned first place in their division in Problem Solving and fourth place in the Best in Nation rankings. The local students competed among more than 1,200 participants from 28 states in pursuit of the national title.

Yang, a student at Harker School, recruited the team from among science and math enthusiast friends. She said competing alongside pals helps rather than hinders the team’s competitive edge.

“Our teamwork is a really special thing because we’re all friends, but we can all be serious when we need to,” she noted.

The competition, operated by the Technology Student Association, includes three sections: a researched essay, a multiple-choice exam and an engineering challenge that this year had teams building working air filters from scratch. The goal of the TEAMS competition is to challenge students to work collaboratively and apply their math and science knowledge in practical, creative ways to solve everyday engineering challenges.

Each year, the themed competition is developed based on the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century. The Grand Challenges, chosen by technological thinkers around the world, address goals for improving life on Earth, challenging engineers to find solutions in the realms of sustainability, health, security and quality of life. This year’s theme was “Engineering the Environment.”

The Harker ninth- and 10th-grade team captained by Yang had previously placed second in a state competition, qualifying members for nationals.

According to Yang, though the team enjoyed its first year competing in TEAMS, me mbers don’t plan to rest on their laurels in next year’s competition.

“Our goal is to win Best in Nation next year,” she said.


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