Engineering competition

Belton High School and Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow won top prizes in a recent engineering competition at Texas A&M University.

A Belton student took top honors in a recent engineering competition for an idea designed to combat Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Other local students also received awards at the Chevron Design Challenge, a competition at Texas A&M University for Project Lead The Way schools.

The competition allowed students to form teams along with competitors from other schools. Jackson Small, an engineering student at Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow, was part of a championship team that designed a mattress that can sense a baby’s vital signs and correct his or her sleeping position to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

“I think it helped them gain valuable experience in collaborative problem-solving and cement their prospects in becoming future engineers,” Belton High School engineering teacher Pietro Giustino said.

Giustino sponsors the school’s robotics team and traveled with the participating students to College Station.

Students who traveled to the competition in May formed self-selected teams from schools around the state. The teams were given a needs statement and then had to work through the design process to come up with a solution, produce a mock-up and pitch their design to a panel of judges.

Another New Tech student, Christian Rogers, joined a team that won first place for a smart pill dispenser designed to help elderly patients keep track of their medications. Belton High School student Ashley Perrier was part of a team that placed third.

Each student in a winning team received a $150 Amazon gift card, and the grand champion winners received trophies.

Career and Technical Education Director Stephanie Ferguson said Belton Independent School District is proud of the winning students for their engineering efforts.

“This is the second year our engineering students have participated in a (for Project Lead The Way) design challenge, and this year’s competition was restructured to emulate the ‘Aggies Invent’ event that TAMU holds for their college students every year,” Ferguson said. “I’m incredibly proud of the team Mr. Giustino assembled and how well they performed at an event that is designed to mirror best practices for a true engineering team.”

Project Lead The Way is a non-profit curriculum organization focused on science, technology, engineering and math-related subjects.

“It was fantastic to win first place in that final round after all of our hard work,” Small said in the release.

Small said he enjoyed having a chance to work with students from outside the Belton area.

“It was great to get to know a group of people my age with the same interests as me coming from all different kinds of backgrounds,” he said. “Most importantly though, it was great to learn that I loved the experience and that I made the right choice in what I’m pursuing as a future career.”

Giustino said that he will continue encouraging his students to participate in this competition.

“I was elated to see that our students could stand out among so many for (Project Lead The Way) engineering students across Texas,” he said. “More important to me was hearing from out students about how fun, challenging and worthwhile the competition was.”