The United States is falling behind when it comes to having enough workers to meet demand in fields like math, science and engineering.
High schools are stepping up their curriculum to get more students interested and are seeing results.
Shawnee Mission Public Schools recently swept the Introduction to Engineering and Design Challenge. The winner was a high school junior, who spends his free time tuning up cars and turned his focus on the tools he uses.
"What I started out with was, as you can see, this original nut driver here. It was a set of eight and I decided to incorporate all the elements of the set of eight into one tool that would essentially save materials and make the tool more efficient," Nick Hellbusch said.
What Hellbusch ended up with is a more modern, ergonomic nut driver.
"A removable handle with an inner button mechanism," he explained.
Every size socket is hidden inside.
The Shawnee Mission High School junior made the tool for a reverse engineering class project. Then he entered it in an invitation-only competition hosted by one of the largest engineering firms in the U.S., Black and Veatch.
The invitational required that each student complete a reverse engineering project, in which they deconstruct, reconstruct and modify an everyday item.
Each entry was judged based on function, structure and product improvement.
Hellbusch took first place in the reverse engineering competition.
"This really demonstrates some of my abilities within the software and I think it shows some of my ideas," he said.
He gained the skills in his engineering class, which is part of Project Lead the Way. The new engineering curriculum in the Shawnee Mission Public School District aims to get more students interested in science, technology, engineering and math careers.
"I'm told that we have rather a crisis. Black and Veatch, who has been so supportive with us in this program, has told us they are expecting many retirements in the next five years and they need sharp, well-trained individuals to take place in the engineering field and this is a nationwide problem," teacher Greg Thiel said.
Hellbusch was awarded $150, but he said the recognition from a top engineering company is even more rewarding.
The students who took second and third place are from Shawnee Mission Northwest. Jacob Rosebaugh modified a handheld can opener and Michael Lee rebuilt and modified a skateboard.
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