SYRACUSE — Wawasee High School’s Supermileage program, as well as the school’s robotics team, competed on the world stage and proved world class with the robotics team emerging number one in the world.
Through programs like supermileage and robotics at Wawasee High School, area students have the opportunity to learn how to manipulate technology and push the boundaries of what is possible. And they are also really good at it. Students in the supermileage class have competed against — and beat — some of the top engineering universities in the world.
Wawasee’s supermileage program was launched in 1999 as a way to give pre-engineering students real challenges, such as building a car that maximizes miles per gallon. Eighteen years later, more than 20 students participate in the program each year and work together to develop fuel-efficient vehicles.
“Many students who have since moved on have talked about how this class helped them prepare for an engineering career,” supermileage teacher Allen Coblentz said. “Problem-based learning forces students to work together to come up with a solution. They have a responsibility to complete the task, but no one is going to tell them how to do it or the steps they need to follow.”
The class traveled to Sonoma, Calif., in April to participate in the Shell Eco-marathon Americas, an international energy efficiency competition.
In the UrbanConcept division, which encourages more practical car designs, the Wawasee Gold team earned third place in the on-track contest. The students were able to design an internal combustion engine that can drive 534 miles on one gallon of fuel.
“When we started this program, we were taking pictures of the cars on 35mm film,” Coblentz said. “It is incredible to me how technology continues to change, and the students who participate in supermileage will be ahead of the curve as new things, like autonomous cars, hit the market.”
For students more interested in computers than vehicle engines, the Iron Pride Robotics Team has something to offer. The team, which currently consists of nearly 50 students, was formed in 2013 as a way to advance the STEM skills of area students.
The Iron Pride was ranked No. 1 on the Worlds Skills Standings Leaderboard and placed 16th in the high school division of the VEX Robotics World Championships Kentucky in April.
Both the supermileage and robotics programs are open to any students in the Wawasee Area Career and Technical Education Cooperative, a partnership between Whitley County Consolidated Schools, Wawasee Community Schools and Fairfield Community Schools that helps prepare area students with the skills necessary to become successful in college or career.
“Our goal is for each student to experience a vibrant environment at Pathways where they can master new knowledge, tap their creativity and explore their potential,” said Director Jon Everingham. “At Pathways, we are preparing our students for a wide range of high-wage, high-skill and high-demand careers.”
Programs of study include agriculture, architecture and construction, arts, audio-visual technology and communications, business and marketing, culinary arts, education and training, health services, human services, law, public safety, corrections and security, manufacturing and transportation.