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National Engineering Design Challenge This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Would you want to design and develop an exercise machine? Most people probably wouldn't. Fewer still might want to when they discover that they needed to construct the machine so that it could be used by paraplegics. But the DuBois Area High School chose to stand up to the challenge.

Once the team was assembled, we had to raise money for the project. We decided to ask local businesses to donate and then in return we would acknowledge their sponsorship. In the end, we raised about $500.

Since we now had some funding, we started to design our blueprint. After debating several ideas, the team came upon one with which we all agreed. From there we started to build.

Once materials were selected, the team got a physical therapist who works with paraplegics to give us a disabled person's perspective. Our blueprint slowly manifested itself until after a few weeks of hard work, it was assembled.

Now that our exercise machine had been forged, it was time for us to enter our project into competition. Due to the difficulty of this project, it turned out that no one else from our region had constructed their own machine. So instead of simply taking first place in our area and then going to the state competition, we decided to travel to another area so we could compete.

Representing my high school with me was a group of ten team members. Once we arrived, we brought our equipment into the building. There were eight other schools and their respective projects, along with the three judges. After observing each of the other team's projects, we pondered how they could come up with all of these diverse and interesting ideas. The idea which impressed us the most was the idea of using alternate forms of resistance instead of simply using weights and bands of flexible plastic. Two of the most interesting forms of resistance I encountered were air pressure and centrifigul force.

The judges listened to each high school presentation. When my team's turn came, we did our best to tell the judges what we deemed important about our machine in the three-minute time period.

After all teams gave their presentations, the judges let everyone break for lunch. When we came back, it was time for the award ceremony. We could hardly wait to find out if we qualified to go to the state competition. After they read the three schools who would be going on, we realized that we weren't one.

As the bus was reloaded, our teacher went off to find out how well we had done. It turned out that our effort had earned a close fourth place.

Even though my team didn't win, I didn't feel like a failure. My team had learned a lot about how to accommodate parapIegics as well as how to go about building a device for exercising. But that was only a small part of the knowledge we gained. Because of my experience, whenever someone mentions the National Engineering Design Challenge, I recall the enjoyable experience I had. u


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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