They may not be part of corporate or university think tanks, but small groups of area high school students were no less creative in putting their heads together to tackle the fuel-efficiency puzzle at the fifth annual Endurance Challenge. The event is sponsored by Moraine Park Technical College’s Engine Research and Development Technician program at the Fond du Lac campus.
The teams modified engines donated by Briggs & Stratton in the quest to get the best fuel efficiency and run the longest. The modified engines were brought to Moraine Park and given the same amount of gas, then timed. Students and instructors alike enjoyed seeing what other schools had done, and learning from each other. They were assisted by Moraine Park faculty, staff and students as well as employees of Briggs & Stratton and Kohler Co.
The Sheboygan North High School team came in first with a running time of one hour, 58 minutes and seven seconds. The engine was modified by students Jeffrey Boldt, Jim Cila, Zack Graves, Matthew Mohr, Matt Rommel and Sou Yang. Their instructor, Alan Rekowski, said the Endurance Challenge teaches his students about fuel efficiency, physics, creative thinking, problem solving and teamwork. “It brings in other aspects they might not typically get with the standard automotive service training.”
Sheboygan North senior Jim Cila, who was accepted at MSOE, said the team did a lot of research and made several modifications. “Low RPMs and a big flywheel contributed primarily to the engine efficiency,” he said. “We learned to cooperate and work with each other – and if you do make a mistake, to let your team members know.”
Coming in second with 56 minutes and 38 seconds were Fond du Lac High School students Dan Davies, David Kraus, Brennan Nieskes, Alex Schaefer and Matt Stoffel. “We are talking about theory more than anything,” instructor Cory Clark said of the team’s engine modifications. “There are some mechanics to it. It’s the applicable science – this gets them into that. We’re doing chemistry and physics.”
“This type of project gives students an opportunity to realize how math, physics and communication are part of so much of what we do,” said Oshkosh West instructor Bill Benson, whose students Jon Bradley, Michael Schimke, Chris Zernzach and Paul Zutz took third place with a time of 45:14 for their second year at the Endurance Challenge.
Sheboygan South High School’s engine ran for 38 minutes and 27 seconds, thanks to the team effort of William Allison, Cameron Donath, Anthony Grabner, Devin Hoffman and Erika Ziegler, along with instructor Joe Hietpas. “We did better this year,” said Hoffman, a junior. The school was in its second year of competing at the challenge.
In fifth place with 35:11 for their first year at the event was Hustisford’s team of Justin Greget, Brett Hildebrandt and John Wiza. Instructor Kyle Bliefernicht said the group did a lot of research and spent less than $10 on modifications. “This is an extra project for this group,” he said, “offered to my advanced students.”
“I like it,” said junior Justin Greget. “It was actually a good learning experience.”
Oakfield students Gage Arndt, Brian Baker, Austin Moucha and Alex Page came in sixth at 34:04. They were accompanied by instructor Paul Helm.
The next run time of 25:57 was reached by the Plymouth team of Brandon Berth, Hunter Hueppchen, Taylor Lueck, Chris Reichert and Travis Schmidt. Their instructor was Don Mier, who attended the competition for the first time and said he learned a lot along with the students.
Campbellsport’s engine ran 22 minutes and 47 seconds for team members Blake Cissa, Chris Ficht and Kyle Schultz. They were accompanied by instructor Jerry Burr.
Princeton and Germantown high school students also competed in this year’s event. Princeton’s team consisted of Dakota Calbaum, Alex Fritsche and Elliot Pulvermacher, along with instructor Scott Simacek. The Germantown team, in its first year, consisted of Devin Bauerle, Aaron Drost, Andy Klumb, Sean Nedson and John Weske, and instructor Luke Lechner.
Craig Claerbout, a technical specialist with Briggs & Stratton and member of the Moraine Park Engine Research and Development Advisory Committee, said the Endurance Challenge gives the high school students a look at a college-level lab. “It’s more engineering-based and science, vs. repairing small engines,” he said. “It introduces them to engines and what makes them work.” Briggs & Stratton hires a lot of Moraine Park Engine Research and Development program graduates, he added, so it’s an important program for the company.
Each member of the winning team will receive a $250 Moraine Park scholarship if they enroll at the College. Other prizes were donated by Kohler, Briggs & Stratton, John Deere, Snap-on Tools and Moraine Park.
Fall 2009 enrollment for the Engine Research and Development Technician program is currently under way at Moraine Park. For more information about the program, including a program video, or the annual Endurance Challenge, contact Tom Denow, engine research and development program instructor and competition coordinator, at 920-924-3299 or firstname.lastname@example.org.