Young engineers forming at Dudley High

The Advanced Technology Team (AVT-Team) at Dudley High School is making a name for itself in national competitions.

Joshua Pettiford, 18, Daniel Romero, 16, Joanna Zieglar, 15 and Henry Teodosio, 18, are four members of the team that spoke about their experiences. Founder Rick Lewis and program advisor Deborah Vincent were also happy to speak about a program.

Their efforts to build a competitive electric car paid off when the team from Dudley attended the Shell Eco-marathon in April, highlighting their abilities.

The Marathon itself is a competition that allows students from around the world to design, build and test ultra energy-efficient vehicles. The competition is open to university and high school teams, and is offered at in America, Europe and Asia.

“We took our cars apart and put it under the bus and put it together there. There were safety seminars in Detroit about what exactly to do and what Shell accepted. Before you go on the track, you have to pass an inspection.

The inspection to get on the track is the hardest part to pass — not very many universities even pass. They check everything, electrical, brakes, height and body. We passed two of the cars,” Teodosio and Pettiford reported while grinning proudly.

Teodosio explains that, “we used to have titles, but this year we are trying to change it, we wanted it to be more equal. Nobody be higher than anyone else.”

“I’ve learned not just engineering but teamwork, as well. How to use my brain in a more engineering way, a more creative way,” Romero explains.

Lewis takes pride in bringing females and minorities into the group. “We encourage females and minorities in STEM fields,” said Lewis. Zieglar, one of the females on the team, touches on what she has learned. “They’ve helped me a lot. I came on and I was very clueless. I learned how, basically how, to use the tools because there is a safe and unsafe way to use them. There are shortcuts, but you have to use them the safe way.”

Making a car from scratch takes about a year, and with little to no funding they rely entirely on donations of car parts and funds.

Lewis elaborated on the budget issue.

“We almost start off with nothing every time. The kids don’t have any money. This is an after school program, and the kids don’t get any credit for it. We wish they could. We hope they can reinforce what they are learning in all their classes.”

The students have been finishing up end of the year testing, making many of Lewis’s comments about education pertinent. “Not just passing a test with an A or B, but applying what you learn in a practical sense, and failing and succeeding and failing again. We don’t give them the answers (or) give them a test. Oh, you

passed, and sometimes I think that’s a deficit in education.”

Along with polishing their skills in reading, writing, problem solving, math, and teamwork, they are also being exposed to different career paths, meeting individuals in the community and other mechanical advisors.

The team has taken field trips to the Honda factory, and the Ford Museum, amongst other locations.

Lewis explained one part of the program that brings him great happiness. “We have helped two students get jobs after high school. People say ‘Well, doesn’t the school system have something in place… (he chuckled) you ask the students if the school system has something in place. I’m not being negative, but they are taking away so much from the teachers that we don’t get a chance to help these kids the way we want to.’ !