DHS Engineering Team Makes it to States!


Let’s say DHS’s Culinary Academy has no organizational system to sort its utensils, plates, and/or aprons. Or the Robotics Club has no specific drawer for its thousands of screws, and when the long-awaited competition comes along, they spend half of their designated building time searching for them. What kind of organizational system could be created to implement solutions to these issues? This was the challenge 15 high school engineering teams had to face Saturday, April 14th, 2018, at the annual Chevron Design Challenge. As difficult as this sounded, it was what three DHS students had been preparing themselves for over the last month. After participating in a small school competition to ensure they qualified for this challenge, freshmen Luke Doueihi, Edmund Totah, and Mandy Tran met frequently with Mr. Adam Brown, their engineering teacher, to prepare for the main competition. Ultimately, their hard work paid off, as they placed 3rd in the regionals, qualifying for states, which will take place on May 5th.


In order to participate in this challenge, each team was needed three members who met two qualifications – to be taking or have taken the PLTW Introduction to Engineering Design course, and to have never competed in this challenge before. Doueihi explained, “I decided to participate in the Chevron Design Challenge because I felt I met the needs for a good designer.”


Totah had a similar opinion, agreeing on the fact that he wanted to challenge himself. “My main motivation was to see what me and two other people were capable of in a span of seven hours and how we compared to the theoretical competition, especially since the region encompasses a lot, if not all of the Silicon Valley,” he stated. “I wanted to see if my skills would stack up against the others in the competition, especially the older people, as this competition was not limited by age.”


Tran, herself, ultimately participated in the competition because she enjoyed the class. “I basically told myself that this was a great opportunity for me to keep exploring a subject that I enjoy,” she said.



Gathering at American High School in Fremont at 7:30 in the morning, students were given until 3:00 PMto design, model, and create a presentation of an organizational system that aided a specific club at their school. Then, each group took turns presenting their newly generated product to three industry judges and an eager audience of teachers and family members. Of course, as it was their first time in such a competition, the DHS team admitted to a few mistakes, but overall these freshmen managed to keep their cool. “When a problem arose, I looked for a fast solution and tried to make the best of it,” Doueihi said.


Their final product, the Culinary Convoy, was an 8-compartment, $900 worth system that aimed to (hypothetically, mind you) help DHS’s Culinary Academy organize their utensils, dishware, and clothing items, which ultimately earned them third place in the overall competition. Placing third had a varying mixture of reactions for this team. Tran, evidently unable to contain her smile as she posed with her newly earned certificate, stated, “I felt very very VERY happy. Honestly, it was like, is this really happening? Cause it was the biggest competition I’ve ever competed in and it was pretty surreal that we had gotten third.”


However, both Doueihi and Totah admitted that they could have done better. “I left American High feeling excited that we were going to states but angered that we didn’t win,” Totah confessed. “I gave it some thought and realized there was nothing I could do except focus on what we could control: preparing for states. At that time, there was no better thought in my mind that thinking about winning the states, and the look on the faces of the 2nd and 1st place regional winners and everybody else looked as three freshman won the whole thing.”



However, the mindset these three are building to prepare for states remains consistent. All understand that they still have much knowledge to gain, and regionals was a perfect place to do just that. “I plan on refined my design and presentation skills. I am excited to see what the state competition will bring,” Doueihi enthusiastically stated. Tran expressed a similar opinion, saying, “I am VERY excited for states. Nervous as well, but the excitement is there. My plan is to basically reflect back on how regional’s went. I think that we’ve already experienced it once, we can greatly improve now that we know what it actually feels like to compete. We just have to realize what we could do better and actually do better at states.”


Regarding whether or not they would encourage others to participate in this competition in following years, this team had a fairly positive opinion. “I would only encourage someone if they felt confident in design and presenting in front of an audience,” Doueihi explained. Tran and Totah both agreed. As it was a once-in-a-high-school-career opportunity, you had to make the best of it. “I would definitely encourage any students who are interested in design to participate in this challenge,” Totah said. “You are only allowed to participate in it once, so you have to make it count. It has already been an amazing experience for me and I think it can be beneficial for a lot of people. One thing I highly encourage is diversifying your team skill set. Don’t pick your friends just because. The winning strategy for last year’s team and my team was having someone who can create clear sketches, someone who is quick thinking and efficient when it comes to inventor, and someone who creates the presentation and who is the main kicker in the final presentation.”. In the end, he quickly added, “Even if you don’t win, take it as a learning point and focus on becoming better so maybe one day, you can judge this competition as an engineer.”