Alain Clenet: Inventor and Entrepreneur

In May of this year, the Foundations of Engineering II group had the delightful privilege of hearing from Mr. Alain Clenet, a local inventor. Not wanting anyone to miss out on the lifetime of wisdom this man has to offer, we arranged for him to come back again and speak to the Advanced Engineering II group. The class is studying flight and aerodynamics, and so Mr. Clenet began with a few technical lessons on the aerodynamics of some of his past inventions.

Alain Clenet describes the aerodynamics of 4WD differentials
and Japanese Maglev trains

After discussing some of his inventions for reducing turbulence drag on large trucks, Mr. Clenet described to the students how they might possibly gain patents for their own ideas and inventions. Mr. Clenet holds over 100 patents, and is eager for young entrepreneurs to publish their ideas and safeguard them.

Eva asks Mr. Clenet a question about his projects

Mr. Clenet also cautioned the students against making money their primary goal, warning that money, while absolutely necessary, is no good thing to live for. The students gladly received his advice, along with his many stories!

Mr. Clenet enjoys a picture with the entire Advanced Engineering II
class, from left to right: Claire, Victor, Eva, Gabe, Caleb, Aaron,
Kylie, Megan, Mr. Meadth, Josh, Colby, Mikaela and Tys (front)

Thank you, Alain, for visiting our Academy once again, and thank you students for receiving our visitor so warmly. Keep those inventions coming!

Guest Speaker: Alain Clenet

The Foundations of Engineering II class recently took a break between major projects to hear from a local inventor, Mr. Alain Clenet. A friend of Dr. Scott Lisea, Mr. Clenet came in to share with the students some highlights of his life’s work, and also some sage advice.

Mr. Alain Clenet showing one of his first projects, a car body he
designed at age 20 during his university years

Mr. Clenet’s charge to the students, in looking back over a lifetime of designing mechanical systems, was simple and to the point: “Be kind, be honorable, and take risks.” He went on to describe some of the many inventions he had produced: cars, a speedboat, tent systems, sheet metal beams, fabric houses, and his production line of luxury cars made right here in Santa Barbara County. He alluded to many difficulties as well as successes, and shared also of his strong faith in Jesus Christ.

A 1979 Series I neo-classic model from Clenet Coachworks
(Wikipedia, Creative Commons license)

Students eagerly listening to his tales of business and engineering

At the end of our time together, Todd went up to show Mr. Clenet the remote-controlled car that he had programmed. Mr. Clenet affirmed the students in their vehicle designs, and handed out his personal card, encouraging them to contact him if they had great ideas for inventions that they might want his help with.

We hope that Mr. Clenet can come again soon, and offer his wisdom to the students for their final major project. Many thanks!

MS Science and Engineering Expo Photos

Thanks to all students, parents, and teachers for another incredible evening! The quality of the exhibits was high, and we could tell you worked hard. Enjoy the photos and videos below–you can click/tap on them to enlarge.

Tessa and Chloe show their Rube Goldberg dog feeding machine

Small children are enthralled!

The dogs enjoyed the show, too

A functional, hand-cranked, 3D-printed
Archimedean Screw

 

Jed and Ben show Lower Campus students their French Revolution
demonstration–fruit was definitely harmed in the making of this
exhibit!

 

…but put to good use in the
Blender Bicycle by Cate and Valeria!
Don’t forget to hold that lid on!

 

Mercy and Jenny help Mrs. Short to understand key principles of
buoyancy, density, and mass–looks like exciting stuff!

Christine and Ashlynne with their impressive pulley arrangements

Pedro and Julian with their LEGO version of the legendary
Claw of Archimedes

Lux and Olivia put together this
impressive homemade hydraulic
robot arm–well done, girls!

Selene, Mr. Hougo, and Asher prepare a live demonstration of
a compound pulley system

Doing fine, three feet off the ground
Also doubles as a “time out” device
for small children (it’s all right–it’s
Mr. Meadth’s son)
Caleb and Michael explored another
apocryphal war engine: the Archimedes
Death Ray!

 

Chloe and Ava with a motorized Aerial Screw, taken straight from
the pages of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook

Kayode and Josh lift 80 pounds of concrete and steel with a 3:1
mechanical advantage

Dylan and Jordan produced another
engine of war: the tennis ball ballista!

Sam and Tommy with their homemade motorized paper plane
launcher!  Standard equipment for every boy aged 5 to 105

 

Belen and Erica with an array of
marshmallow catapults

A surprising number of marshmallows never made it to the catapults

When Mr. Alker’s son wasn’t eating them, Mr. Alker was

Deacon and Chris were popular with
the racing crowd, tracking time, speed,
momentum, and kinetic energy

Julian and Zak loading a high-tension catapult, constructed entirely
of steel frame–be sure to watch the videos!

Once again, well done 8th Grade! Finish the year strong, and we’ll do this again next year.

Project Demonstration: RC Cars On Lower Campus

Elementary school students at our Lower Campus received a special treat last Friday when the students of the Foundations of Engineering II class demonstrated their latest project: remote-controlled cars. Utilizing much of the same equipment as the self-driving car project of last semester (i.e. the Vex robotics kits, CAD, and lots of trial and error), three teams of students constructed cars that they operated via a video game controller. After many weeks of hard work, multiple prototypes, and perseverance, the cars could move forwards, backwards, and turn on a dime with rack-and-pinion steering (well, maybe a silver dollar). Each car also had a built-in payload delivery system that deposited a 3D-printed figure at the push of a button, and a rear-wheel differential gearbox to allow for better cornering.

The afternoon’s proceedings began with a brief introduction of the project to the 5th and 6th Grade students, given by the engineering students’ teacher, Mr. Rodney Meadth. Mr. Meadth outlined the goals of the project and recounted some of the difficulties the students faced during the design process.

Mr. Meadth warms up the crowd before the demonstration


During Mr. Meadth’s introduction, the three teams of students worked diligently to set up their cars. As with the self-driving car project, each of the three teams comprised four students, with distinct roles as follows:

  • Team Leader: co-ordinate efforts, give attention wherever needed, be an all-around expert in everything.
  • Mechanical Engineer: primarily responsible for building the physical structure of the robot, mounting sensors, and attaching custom parts.
  • Programmer: working on code that will navigate the robot around the course, incorporating sensor feedback and motor outputs to ensure success.
  • CAD Specialist: design custom parts in a CAD program (all students used Onshape), and then print them out for use in actuality.


Team ESTA makes their final preparations (Eva, Samy, Todd, Alena)

After the introduction, the teams each performed a solo demonstration of their vehicle. The demonstration consisted of navigating a course and delivering the car’s payload to a marked target area on the floor.

First up was Team ESTA, with Eva, Samy, Todd, and Alena. After placing their vehicle at the starting line, the team carefully drove through the course towards the payload drop-off zone. With some slight course adjustments, ESTA managed to successfully deposit their payload, showing off their unique hinged box delivery system. Alena worked for weeks and went through several prototypes to ensure the hinges mated correctly, and could be driven by a VEX motor. Her online CAD file is publicly available here–you can even open and close the box by grabbing the lid with your mouse!

Next came Team JABS (Josh, Alec, Ben, David), whose car intimidated the competition with bright orange, spiked hubcaps and a crimson racing flag bearing their team name. They too successfully navigated the course and delivered the payload, though at a slightly slower pace than that of Team ESTA.
The Team JABS car living up to its team
name with some intimidating spiked hubcaps, designed by Alec


After overcoming some controller connection issues, the final team, JCVC (Jakob, Colby, Victor, Claire), demonstrated their car. JCVC’s vehicle was the simplest of the three, lacking the adornments or sophisticated payload system of the other two competitors, but what it lacked in sophistication, it made up in the form of speed, being the fastest of the three to complete the assigned task.

With the end of the individual demonstrations, came the main event of the day: a race between the three cars around the track to determine which team had built the best remote controlled car. The elementary school students were abuzz with delight as the three teams lined up their vehicles at the starting line. The question on everyone’s mind: Who will be victorious? 

The tension is palpable as the cars take their starting positions
for the race; from left to right: JABS, ESTA, JVCV


With a shout of, “Go!” from Mr. Meadth, the cars raced down the track. However, the chances of victory for one team were extinguished in mere seconds. Team JABS, despite an impressive showing in the individual demonstrations, suffered an immediate steering malfunction that, in spite of their best troubleshooting efforts, ultimately kept them out of the race. The two remaining cars continued to zoom around the track, largely neck and neck for several laps.

In a huge upset, Team JCVC suddenly suffered a critical mishap! As Team JABS attempted to resolve their steering issues on the track, they (accidentally?) managed to ram the “emergency off” button on the side of JCVC! This left only one car still standing, still making consistently strong laps. Team ESTA ended by pulling confidently into the drop-off zone and depositing their payload perfectly, eliciting a roar of applause from the 5th and 6th Grade!

Team ESTA members Samy, Alena, Todd, and Eva revel
in their victory

After the race’s conclusion, Mr. Meadth brought up the winning team and opened the session up to questions from the audience. When asked by one of the Lower Campus students how one goes about making a project of this difficulty, Team Leader Eva encouraged the student to, “always ask for help, be patient, plan stuff out, and don’t be afraid of failure.” Programmer Todd answered a question about the coding process by calling for perseverance amidst “a lot of failures” in order to eventually find success.

The RC car demonstration on Lower Campus was a thrill for all in attendance, from the delighted elementary students to their cheering teachers. Well done to all teams for the many weeks of hard work leading up to this, and especially to Team ESTA!

Guest Speakers: Patrick Lindsey and John Horton

Last Tuesday, our Foundations of Engineering II class had the privilege of hearing from chief mechanical engineer, John Horton, team manager and driver, Patrick Lindsey, and Lindsay Lindsey, Patrick’s wife, of Park Place Motorsports. Park Place Motorsports is a professional racing team that competes in WeatherTech, a branch of NASCAR devoted to racing sports cars.

John Horton stressing the importance of teamwork in racing.


Mr. Horton recounted his journey to a profession in the racing industry from his childhood fascination with his Erector metal construction sets to a life-changing auto shop program that he joined in high school. He stressed the importance of cooperation when working as an engineer, particularly in a field such as professional racing which combines a multitude of engineering disciplines.  On the matter of cooperation Mr. Horton said, “There’s always something that you don’t know about that you need a network to help you solve. Communication is key.”

Patrick Lindsey explains the art of cornering in a race car.


Mr. Lindsey focused on the driving aspect of the race, showing data gathered from tire sensors during a lap at Daytona Speedway. He related the shape of the graph at a particular instant to what the car was physically doing at that point and talked about the importance of such graphs in making sure that the car was operating at absolute peak performance.

Our guests were also able to relate their profession to our recently (almost!) completed project: the robotic self-driving car. Jakob explained the various elements of his team’s robot to Mr. Horton, such as the drive motor system and the rack-and-pinion steering, and Mr. Horton confirmed that the same features were present on their Porsche, just scaled-up and more advanced.


The Foundations of Engineering II class with their guest speakers.

The Park Place Motorsports Team ended their presentation with an inside-the-car video of a lap around Daytona Speedway and a directive to pursue their passion for science and engineering to wherever it may take them.

We are thankful for the visit from the Park Place Motorsports Team, and wish them luck in their upcoming 24-hour race at Daytona Speedway!