Baldwin City Kansas won a national title this weekend and it wasn’t in basketball. Instead, it was in a high school engineering contest.
The Baldwin High School Real World Design Challenge Team was named the national champions of the design competition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The seven students and two mentors returned home to a small crowd of supporters Monday afternoon.
“It was one of the most exciting experiences of my life,” BHS senior Mason Johnson said. “It was pretty much unreal to win the whole thing and beat Hawaii, because they won it last year. It was just awesome.”
The Real World Design Challenge encourages students in grades 9-12 to solve real problems currently faced by the engineering industry while encouraging them to get excited about science and engineering careers. The challenge is designed by professionals from industry, academia and government.
The 2010 challenge addressed fuel efficiency in aviation.
On Saturday morning, the BHS team was named one of the three finalists out of 26 states and made a final presentation Saturday evening at the IMAX Theater at the National Air and Space Museum.
After BHS defeated finalists from Hawaii and Minnesota and was announced the winner, excitement emanated from everyone, including BHS teacher Pam Davis.
“The last 48 hours have been a whirlwind of excitement,” Davis said. “It’s been wonderful. It’s blown my mind. The kids have been so excited. They told me it was 10 times more fun than they thought it was going to be.”
The Baldwin High team also won an award for outstanding mentor collaboration. Sandy Barnes, the mother of BHS junior Carson Barnes, was the Bulldogs’ mentor.
The team consists of students Carson Barnes, Brandon Baltzell, Johnson, Shelby Gregory, Carrie Dietz, Mac Halpin and Austin Kraus.
A Baldwin High team participated in the national contest a year ago, but didn’t place. BHS has won the state competition both years since its inception in 2009.