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Tech Challenge

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A team of high schoolers marches onto the football field at the University of Houston’s TDECU Stadium for the main event, briefly shielding their eyes as they step into the bright afternoon sun. The voice of the announcer booms over the loudspeaker as they line up, arranging themselves around their captain on the fifty yard line. Each teammate wears a black and white jersey and a determined expression, as well as protective goggles and a shiny hardhat. Yes, that’s hardhat, not helmet.

These high schoolers are not football players. They are participants in the first annual High School Offshore and Technology Stars Challenge, co-presented by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI). They have earned their place on the field by learning the basics of electrical engineering and building a circuit to capture the energy generated by movement and vibration, which has charged up the battery of a remote control helicopter. Now it’s time to see if they can fly.