Designs Complete: Orphanage in the DRC

The vision of the Providence Engineering Academy is to “inspire and equip students to find creative solutions to the world’s problems through mathematics, science, and engineering, as imitators of a creative God.” In accordance with this, the Academy recently became involved with a true situation that not only stretched the students’ design skills, but showed them how they could bring those skills to bear on a world full of need.
Steph Fellows, formerly of Journeyman International, a humanitarian architecture program connecting university students with worldwide projects, came and visited our high school class back in early December. Steph shared of her experiences in places like Tanzania and the Congo, where she learned first-hand about other cultures and spearheaded various projects for students at Cal Poly.
After outlining the design process and giving several case studies, Steph zoomed in on an actual situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. An orphanage serving 40 children had been gutted by fire in late October, and the children were living in various temporary settings. The operators of the orphanage saw this as a chance to build a more suitable facility in a better location, and they reached out to Steph to see if she could help.
The burnt-out orphanage, located in Eastern DRC
Steph gave our students the details of the new design, including budget, square footage, capacity, necessary spaces, and site location on Google Earth. They broke into six teams, and were encouraged to work creatively but realistically within the bounds of their constraints.
After about six weeks of class time, the student teams had produced and polished their final designs, which were presented to the class and sent back to Steph for her evaluation. Her summary comments said it all: “I have goosebumps! They did a phenomenal job!” She told them that she was “impressed by their work as well as the capabilities of young people.” The students in turn were grateful for Steph’s time and effort spent in delivering the project and giving summative feedback.

Gabe and Tys decided to put together a “recycled” design, converting shipping containers into habitable spaces.

Congo Containers
(Gabe Clark, Tys vanZeyl)

Jake, Isabelle, and Sarah Jane decided to go for a more traditional design, with two levels and a wide porch, focusing on creating a welcoming home for the children.

Eglise CBCA Bugabo Orphanage
(Jake West, Isabelle Marchand, Sarah Jane Robertson)
Aaron and Dylan worked on a clustered design, choosing to create smaller bedrooms to give a greater sense of privacy and individualism to the children.
A Home for Secure Comfort
(Aaron Satchwell, Dylan Duncan)
To see all six designs, you can view this poster.
We’re proud of the skills the students are developing, and look forward to seeing how they continue to grow! From here, we are learning to use a different suite of CAD products, with a focus on designing educational aids within our own school. Stay posted, and keep being creative!

Visit to Moog — Space and Defense Group

Last Friday, the students from the high school Providence Engineering Academy were privileged to visit the local division of Moog (rhymes with vogue). Mr Frank Mueller, a family friend of Aaron (one of our engineering students), received us warmly and spoke about his personal journey as a car enthusiast, university student, engineer, and leader in his field. Frank has worked on rocketry systems, testing equipment, cars, and heavy military equipment, for a range of American companies.

Students in front of the Moog building (no photos allowed inside–sorry!)

Frank then took us for a tour, showing us the machining facilities, electronics test benches, and heavy military equipment located in the warehouses connected to their office space. Unfortunately, we can’t show you any photos of this part of the tour! Students gained a greater appreciation of the work that goes into designing the systems that keep our troops well-equipped, and they were fascinated to hear Frank’s perspective as a Christian in this industry.

When the students were asked what was most memorable, Josh reminded us of Frank’s wise words: never stop learning. Frank stands as an example of someone who has successfully balanced studies, an engineering career, his marriage, and his faith, and our students were grateful for all that he shared with us.

Middle School: Intro to Engineering

Our high school Academy provides a robust four-year program for any high school student who wishes to apply… but what about the younger grades? It is easier than ever for elementary and middle school students to get a handle on engineering and science concepts, both in the classroom and even at home. Along with our established science classes, Providence meets this need with the middle school elective: Intro to Engineering.
This semester, the Intro to Engineering class is following a space exploration theme. Within that framework, the students will explore the history of space travel, structural engineering topics, sensor/motor robotics technology, navigation principles, and coding. One of the first mini “challenges” given to the boys and girls was to design a Mars habitat–all within fifteen minutes!
Students outline their design prior to sharing it with the rest of the class
Presenters opened the floor for questions after their presentation
From there, they looked at an overview of space travel, beginning with Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon. The last 100 years or so of space exploration were described, culminating in the incredible achievements of 2015: the flyby of Pluto by New Horizons, the Philae comet lander, astronaut Scott Kelly committing to a year on the International Space Station, and much more.
Today, the class completed a hands-on exploration of trusses. A truss is a linked system of thin, light members, that preserves high strength and rigidity for very low weight–highly favoured by space engineers the world over! Our students built their own truss with the classroom LEGO kits, and then made predictions as to which of their truss members were in tension or compression. They replaced the tension members one by one with pieces of string, proving their guesses were correct.

Two of the boys show how tension members in a truss
can be replaced with string
These explorations will pave the way for the eventual design and construction of autonomous robotic systems at the end of the semester. Plenty more projects to come before then, and we’ll keep you posted!

MIT Enterprise Forum

Students from our Academy were recently invited to attend the Central Coast MIT Enterprise Forum, a monthly event right here in Santa Barbara that presents on a range of topics relating to business, entrepreneurship, and technology. Kristin Horton of the Haven Capital Group reached out and generously offered to cover charges for any of our seniors or juniors, and Gabriel and Jake (pictured) were only too happy to accept.
(photo by Tys vanZeyl)
The Enterprise Forum has recently tackled such topics as cybersecurity, the technology of disaster relief, and thermal vision (it is an interesting fact that infrared technology is actually an industry strength of Santa Barbara). This month’s topic was “Go Big! Go Green!”, looking at how businesses can realistically–and profitably–incorporate sustainable practice into their daily operations. Included among the speakers were representatives from Patagonia and Sonos.
On the whole, our boys enjoyed hearing from local industry leaders, making connections, and of course the open buffet! Students from nearby Anacapa School were also invited, all of this being part of the Forum’s new student outreach initiative. We’re thankful to the Enterprise Forum, and especially to Ms. Horton, and we hope to see more students at these and similar events as opportunities arise.

Jeff Shelton

In the middle of the first quarter, our Engineering Academy students were out on the street–Garden Street, to be precise–sketchbooks in hand, eagerly drawing pictures of interesting architecture. One stand-out building was 819 Garden Street, also known as El Jardin, designed by local architect Jeff Shelton. As the students worked busily to capture the essence of the dynamic lines and tiled surfaces, one of the men working on the building invited them to come in for a quick tour. It turned out to be Jeff himself, and he was only too glad to show the thirteen of them up and down the narrow stairways and towering balconies.
(Photos by Tys vanZeyl)
(Photos by Tys vanZeyl)
More recently, at the beginning of the second semester, the students were again invited to get a glimpse into Jeff’s world. He entertained the students for an hour or so in his workshop, showing them his plan drawings, hand-made models, tile samples, and other tools of the trade. The students were glad to hear of his experiences, and the wisdom he had to offer to aspiring designers.
(Photos by Tys vanZeyl)
Jeff also invited the students to come tour his latest construction, also on Garden Street, once it is finished. Stay posted for more!