Hamtramck Sweeps Top Spots In ESD Home Design Contest

SOUTHFIELD — Three teams from Hamtramck High School swept the top three spots Thursday in The Engineering Society of Detroit’s Engineering SMArT Michigan competition, held at Lawrence Technological University.

A total of 20 members of the top four finalist teams received $30,000 scholarship offers from Lawrence Technological University at the event.

The winning team, “Energy Is Everything,” designed an efficient home that featured a wide variety of energy-saving features, from advanced lighting and energy controls to renewable materials and exterior plantings.

In second place was Hamtramck High’s “That One Green Team,” which designed a home that featured solar photovoltaics for power, permeable pavement to minimize stormwater runoff, renewable materials, skylights that let natural light into the house, and a vegetable garden.

Finishing third was Hamtramck’s “Team Lightnetics,” whose home featured LED lighting, occupancy-sensing light switches, and heavy use of renewable materials.

Oak Park High School’s “Team College Bound” took fourth place. In all, 17 teams from eight high schools participated.

Other participating high schools included Central Collegiate Academy of Detroit, Cody High School’s Detroit Institute of Technology, Denby High School in Detroit, Melvindale High School, Osborn Collegiate Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology of Detroit, and Southfield Regional Academic Campus.

Launched in 2012 in partnership with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Engineering SMArT Detroit gives high school students the opportunity to apply science, engineering and technology in real life situations — and find out first-hand how those core subjects can have a direct impact on people’s lives. The event’s name is an acronym for Science, Mathematics, Architecture and Technology.

The student teams research and design an energy efficient home by drawing architectural designs and writing an essay on their engineering design experiences throughout the semester. The teams then give an oral presentation on their design to judges who are professionals in architecture and engineering.

Students learn about energy efficiency, home construction and architecture. And in preparing for the competition, students gain valuable skills in time management, public speaking and presentation.

Dozens of volunteer engineer mentors worked with the 17 participating teams to help them understand energy concepts like environmental challenges, the electrical grid, alternative energies and energy efficient building materials, as well as how to do architectural drawings to scale. Students also got to take field trips, including one to the Smart House at DTE Energy Headquarters. Dozens more volunteer engineer judges with expertise in energy and building systems spent Thursday morning winnowing the entries down to the four finalists, using a scoring rubric developed by ESD volunteers.

The competition, the first of its kind in Michigan, expands on ESD’s successful tradition of supporting youth education in engineering. The ultimate goal is to expand the competition throughout Michigan.

Engineering SMArT Michigan seeks to help solve a serious problem in Michigan and across the country – a critical shortage of engineers and related technical professionals. Experts predict that 80 percent of the jobs that will be created over the next 10 years will require some form of post-secondary STEM education. And urban areas supply far fewer students to engineering schools than other geographic areas, mostly due to lack of exposure to career opportunities.

The event is funded by the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Sponsors this year were the automotive supplier Denso, FirstMerit Bank, Lawrence Technological University, Mr. Rooter plumbing, and the engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.

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