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Innovation, teamwork focus of program
Local students show what they learned at luncheon
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From left to right, Reginald Jeffries of Galileo Magnet High School holds an umbrella rainwater filtering system as Dwight Tate of Tunstall High School explains it, and Christian Cuenca of Martinsville High listens. Others in their group, but not pictured, were Tajuana Carter of Martinsville High School and Eden Gibson of Danville Public Schools. All those students were involved in the presentation during the Industry Fundamentals Finale Luncheon and Student Presentations on Friday.
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Monday, June 16, 2014

FedEx founder Fred Smith’s quote, “The fear of failure must never be a reason not to try something,” resonated Friday with 30 students who made presentations on products they created or enhanced during a program called Industry Fundamentals.

The event was the finale luncheon of the intensive two-week program. Students or recent graduates of Henry County, Pittsylvania County, Martinsville and Danville public schools and Carlisle participated.

During the Industry Fundamentals program, students enrolled in the Academy for Engineering & Technology program are introduced to advanced and precision manufacturing and engineering and technology careers through a variety of industry tours, according to an overview of the program. Students also participate in workshops that cover the basics of supply chain management, enterprise resource planning with SAP, design and fabrication through the Fab Lab, and product innovation.

Students also toured Danville Community College Regional Center for Applied Technology and Training; the Greensboro Fed Ex Air Hub; Volvo Corporate Headquarters & Technical Design Center in Greensboro, N.C.; the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing; the Logistics Exercise and Simulation Directorate at Fort Lee; and Virginia State University.

They also worked in teams to enhance or create a product with a $75 budget.

In doing presentations Friday, each group explained a problem and the process of brainstorming, research and design of a product, including researching existing patents, costs, potential markets, etc.

The groups’ products were an augmented backpack with solar features, an improved navigational system for blind people, a cell phone case charged by solar power, an underground device for filtering air pollution, an umbrella device for filtering dirty rainwater, and a solo home theater — a rectangular, light-sealed box placed over a person’s head when lying on his back to watch a movie.

Some of the students talked about trial and error, feeling discouraged at times but persevering, and gaining self-confidence.

In an interview, Tajuana Carter, a recent graduate of Martinsville High School, said one of the things she learned was, “There is no such thing as failure.” Rather, achieving success may take multiple steps, she said.

The program also helped her with innovation and teamwork, and as a result of the program, she has decided to study biomedical engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University rather than study a different branch of engineering at a different university, she said.

“It was a fun program,” said Timothy Ross, a rising senior at Bassett High School. “It was very interactive.”

“I learned more social skills — speak out and speak with community,” he said, explaining that the latter involves team work.

“I plan to be a mechanical engineer,” he said. He added his top three choices for college are Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University and N.C. A&T.

“I learned so much,” said Liz Lazaro, a rising senior at Carlisle. She said she learned about various companies and alternative careers if she doesn’t become a civil engineer. Visiting Virginia State University with others and hearing their perspectives was more helpful than relying just on her own perspective, she said.

“The group projects were really cool,” Liz added. “It was helpful for group members “to bounce ideas off each other,” she said.

Others from this area who participated were: Alexis Adams, Carlise; Christian Cuenca, Jonathan Guiterezz, K’Lecia Fountain, Tyler Hairston, Robert Flynn, Vicente Rivera, all of Martinsville High School; and Deanna Redd and Susana Valderrama, both of Magna Vista High School.

During her remarks at the luncheon, Katie Croft, coordinator of experiential learning for New College Institute, said she hoped the students learned that “innovation takes time and creativity takes time.”

“The knowledge, skills and experiences gained through the Industry Fundamentals Program has set a foundation for these students to continually work towards solutions to problems, think critically and innovate,” she said.

Elaborating on some of her luncheon remarks, Croft said in an email, “Pearl Davis, senior manager of ramp operations at the FedEx Air Cargo hub at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, spoke with students on Thursday about the FedEx founder, Fred Smith. Fred Smith’s idea for FedEx came during his college years when he wrote a research paper about outlining overnight delivery service in a computer information age. He was given the grade of a ‘C’ and told it would probably never work. However, he persevered and in 1973 started Federal Express with $91 million in venture capital. Smith started small and lost money along the way, millions in fact. However, he did not quit. Today, FedEx has an annual revenue of $39.3 billion and ships 1.2 billion packages annually.”

Academy for Engineering & Technology “is a targeted program where high school students enroll for two years to pursue engineering, technology and advanced manufacturing skills (for college credit) in courses, projects and experiential learning. Students also gain valuable work-force skills and training that are applicable upon graduation of high school for needed jobs throughout the region and the commonwealth,” Croft stated.

Partners of the Academy for Engineering & Technology are New College Institute, Virginia State University, The Institute for Advanced Learning & Research, Danville Community College, Patrick Henry Community College, Henry County Public Schools, Martinsville City Public Schools, Pittsylvania County Public Schools and Danville Public Schools.

About 40 people attended the luncheon/student presentations Friday at the Southern Virginia Artisan Center uptown.


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