Sacramento State’s Hornet Racing Team and Highlands High School have teamed up to stimulate high school students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The team will head to Highlands High on Friday, Nov. 30, and conduct a student workshop on building a small electric car and exploring gear ratios. On Friday, Dec. 7, the plan is to let student teams compete to see which can get the most speed from the car and which can get the most climbing power. The team also will bring the Hornets’ 2011 and 2012 race cars, and give a presentation on what it means to be an engineering student in college.
“We’ll probably crank the car on for them, too,” team member Marcos Navarro says. “If time, space and weather permit, we can have one of our more experienced drivers take the car around a few laps in an empty parking lot.”
Navarro can appreciate how far Highlands has come because things were much different when he graduated in 2007. “If this was offered when I attended Highlands … we would have been cognizant of what we were capable of, and therefore more interested in the various pathways to various futures,” Navarro says.
“I might have buckled down in classes. A few of my friends might have become engineers instead of getting a job right out of high school or joining the military because of a perceived lack of options. Not that I think those are bad options, just that high schools have a responsibility to make their students aware of all their options.”
The Hornet Racing Team is made up of Sacramento State engineering students who apply their diverse skills toward creating Formula SAE race cars to compete in national collegiate events. Read about the team’s showing this past summer in Lincoln, Neb.
A teacher asked Navarro to lecture on using a machine lathe that Highlands recently acquired. “We use this type of lathe to make a lot of the parts on our race cars in Formula SAE,” Navarro says.
Navarro says that early on, his parents saw signs in him that pointed to him being an engineer or professor, which he says is “funny because now I want to do both. But up until I got to college, I didn’t even know what an engineer was besides the common explanation of ‘they build stuff.’
“Almost all of my fellow engineering students will tell you something similar if they didn’t have any hands-on experience like Highlands offers now or have relatives who were engineers.”
Thanks in part to the Hornet Racing Team, Highlands High School’s faculty is motivating students to become engineers, as Navarro says, “with STEM in mind.”
For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.
– Alan Miller