The Wentz Pre-Engineering Program
Whatever level of science or math you have had, chances are you’ll want to participate in the Wentz Pre-Engineering Program at some point while at Kent.
“It’s like a playground for the students,” says Ben Nadire, retired director of the Pre-Engineering Program. “They love being hands-on and learning teamwork with any kind of challenge. They get locked in.”
Indeed, it’s a common occurrence to walk down the halls of our Pre-Engineering and Applied Sciences Center and hear students say, “Whoa!” with wide-eyed wonder as they program a robot successfully or build a bridge or work with a 3-D printer.
Unlike schools who have only recently begun to design special STEM offerings, Kent has been a pioneer among independent schools, establishing this innovative engineering program a decade ago.
Students in the program gain a solid understanding of the practice and profession of engineering through:
- Extracurricular activities
- The FIRST® robotics competition
- Summer programs
- Guest lectures
- Field trips
Even though the program is demanding, attracting the attention of colleges and universities across the country, students who enroll in the Pre-Engineering Certificate program will still enjoy the full Kent experience.
Holy Solars Team Brings Home First Place Win in 2021 Solar Car Challenge Classic Division
Congratulations to the “Holy Solars,” the team of students in Kent’s engineering program, who debuted with an incredible victory in their division at the Solar Car Challenge!
Founded in 1993, The Solar Car Challenge is a project-based STEM Initiative designed to motivate students in science and engineering and increase alternative energy awareness. To compete, teams build solar cars before displaying and driving them at a closed-track event at the Texas Motor Speedway.
After 14 months spent planning, experimenting, and building their solar-powered car—the “Solar Schell”—in Kent’s Pre-Engineering & Applied Sciences Center, the team completed 264 laps—nearly 396 miles over the course of the four-day event. “Even though we faced so many difficulties over the past two years,” said co-pilot Cameron Ebner ‘21, “we pulled through and finished the car, competed, and won the competition. What set us apart [in the competition] was the collective dedication of the team. To finish the car and win our division was the fruits of our efforts.”
Team captain and co-pilot Emily Yemington ’21 remarked on the difference between the team's modest objectives and remarkable performance. “Our goal was to make a car that could do the bare minimum of passing inspection and running a lap,” said Emily. “I certainly never expected to win or even place, though with the many weekends, mornings, and evenings sacrificed to this car, I do believe that we, as a team, earned it.”
Teachers Carlos Alberto Bezerra and Ryan Harris guided the team by making themselves available countless hours in and out of school. Over the past fourteen months, the students had truncated build time to work through the whole process. “This was quite an amazing experience and feat for the first-time team, but we are not surprised based on the amount of work and learning each team member put into educating themselves on every detail of their entry. We know that they will take what they have learned, along with the skill of problem-solving, and carry it into the world with them, far beyond this challenge.” noted both Bezerra and Harris.
While many students participated at different levels of this project, Cameron emphasized the sense of camaraderie between all of the teams, noting that almost everyone was willing to help each other out. Overall, the main build team which also included Brendan Wilcox ‘21, Luc Z ‘22, Alex G ‘23, Kevin Y ‘23, and Samuel L ‘23 agreed that the experience was incredible and empowering: “This experience has been extremely rewarding. It is not so often that you receive such a direct reward for your efforts and overall,” Cameron concluded. “It was definitely worth it.” The team was also presented with the Chris Jones Award for displaying the highest level of good sportsmanship.
* A special note of thanks to Thomas Yemington P '21, P '23 and his two youngest children (Grace and Reid) for their remarkable contributions as advisor and honorary team members. Thomas's willingness to let the team use his garage in Austin as well as his input (along with some of his friends) helped us accomplish this feat.
For more information about the solar car challenge, visit https://www.solarcarchallenge.org/challenge/. For additional photos of the race week in Texas, visit https://www.solarcarchallenge.org/challenge/photos.shtml.