Full STEAM ahead: Area students to present at Eaton Corp. (The Almanac) | News

On a recent weekday, voices chatter over the soft hum of machines in Mr. Fred Peskorski’s purple and orange STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) room on the first floor of Upper Saint Clair High School.

Peskorski’s students are busy researching, creating and polishing presentations they’ll deliver before aa board panel at Eaton Corporation March 15.

The presentations are the apex of the STEAM Innovation & Consulting course, which Peskorski has taught since 2014.

“It was born out of a conference that our administrators went to,” said Peskorski. “I can’t take full credit for writing it.”

Teachers from USC and South Fayette School District collaborated on the course, which has since expanded to include Bethel Park School District.

The challenging curriculum, a blend of theory and practical application, teaches students to resolve STEAM problems with human centered design solutions.

Groups are paired with an Eaton corporate contact, who presents the problem and meets with students weekly or bi-weekly to discuss their creative problem-solving process.

These aren’t your standard textbook science or math word problems. One group of USC students has spent the past couple months researching a potential new market for the multinational power management company: crypto mining.

“This is one of my favorite problems. Cryptocurrency’s fairly new to all of us. Power has become an issue,” Peskorski said.

Another group of students is designing an electric car charging station (research includes the best alternative energy for powering the stations) while a third group is researching how many of those stations are needed nationwide to power a fleet of electric long-haul cross-country trucks .

The issues Peskorski’s class tackles aren’t the sorts of things that typically keep high-schoolers up at night, but the students spend time in and out of the classroom working to find viable solutions. And sometimes, these ideas find their way into a corporation.

“The last project we worked with EAFab, they came up with this idea of ​​having a mobile supply room,” Peskorski said. “We built the framework for it. That’s something that EAFab is going to use – not the exact model. More often than not, it’s a seed that our independent partners can take and run with.”

Bethel Park High School students, too, are working to solve STEAM-related problems for Eaton Corp. this year, in hopes that their ideas will impress the board. Mr. Brad Kszastowski has taught Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Bethel Park’s spin on STEAM I&C, for more than five years.

Three groups of CIM students will present solutions to STEAM problems, including a remote breaker system, at Eaton March 14.

“I’ve worked with code before, but I’ve never worked with app development,” said junior Kyle Gurganus. He and seniors Aidan Allridge and Evan Manion are, like one USC group, working to create a seamless system for turning on and off breakers on Eaton’s factory floors.

All groups meet frequently with their corporate contacts to present project updates, work out kinks and, ultimately, create a realistic solution to the issue.

“We went one way. When we talked to them, it kind of wasn’t the way we were supposed to go,” Gurganus said of his group’s project. “It wasn’t a major setback – definite kick in the butt. We kind of overcame that. Now that we’re on track, it’s a lot better.”

Gurganus and Grace Passios, a junior developing an app for fleet management, are both first-time Adobe XD users, and Passios said they shared newfound knowledge to help one another grow their skillsets.

Kszastowski said his class is 90% student-driven, and, like Peskorki’s class, his students have the freedom to experiment, learn from failure and presevere.

“They don’t have the experience of not having a correct answer,” said Kszastowski. “In this, I don’t know what the right answer is. All I can do is guide them and give them the tools they need to do the research.”

Peskorski said the course helps students become comfortable with team problem-solving and exposes them to industry professionals.

“It gives them a really great experience,” he said.

“I think it’s important just to do something that there is no right answer. Take them out of their comfort zones. All those clichés,” he said. “I enjoy it, too.”

The students enjoy throwing themselves into real-world problems. It’s empowering, and both USC and Bethel Park students expressed excitement for their presentations.

While delivering viable solutions to a billion-dollar company’s STEAM problems is exciting, there’s one thing some students are equally as thrilled about.

“I’m just excited that I get to wear a suit,” Allridge smiled.

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