Project Ventura Reflection: Erin Simons

After a long/challenging/quick/stressful/rewarding/valuable four months, we’ve reached the end of our 2013 Engineering DAP Project! Our group’s presentation went pretty much as expected- everyone had practiced their part and presented it well, and we were able to answer almost all of the judges’ questions easily and sufficiently. The judges complemented us on our presentation board, samples, and our physical model, and they loved our color scheme (coral and mint). Because we had practiced so much in the week leading up to our presentation, we had weeded out nearly all of the “ums”, “uhs” and “ohs” that plaque many speakers, and we all knew the order of the PowerPoint slides by heart, so there were no mix-ups in that area. The only mistakes we felt that we made during our presentation were not being able to answer some of the questions to the best of our ability. For example, when I was asked how we calculated how much propane we would use, I was not able to provide correct numbers for how much propane it would take to power the oven and propane refrigerator. I think the reason we stumbled on some of the questions was because we had no idea what kinds of questions we would be asked- we were the first group to present, after all. We were prepared to answer questions about our experience with the project and how we would apply it to our jobs later in life, but some of the technical questions caught us off guard.

There were seven judges at our presentation, as well as Ms. Jo and some of the administrators. The judges came from a variety of backgrounds; some were math and science teachers, another was a retired engineer, one was a landscape designer, another a STEM educator at the University of Texas, and an environmental lawyer. All of the judges were very supportive of our work, and most of the questions were to clarify parts of our system or the materials we were using. Some of the questions we were asked were “What is a deep cycle battery?”, “Where will you store the solar panels?”, “How did you calculate the green materials percentage?”, “Why are you using AC and DC systems?”, and “How did you know the water tank is big enough for four people?”

Looking back on the project, the only thing I would have wanted to do differently was prepare for more technical questions. This would have included quizzing each other over our parts (different systems, materials, calculations), as well as reviewing our systems in depth on our own. The most important skills and concepts I acquired from this project were managing my time effectively, solving problems on my own (instead of asking a teacher for help), and learning to be flexible and creative. This project included a time constraint, and it wasn’t until the last month or so that we really realized this project wasn’t going to get done on its own, and that we had to start dedicating more time and work into it. And because this project was so detailed, and no one (including Ms. Jo) was an expert on everything, a lot of the work and learning was done via extensive researching on the internet, as well as calling/emailing experts and companies. This was the first project where we really had to go out into the world and learn for ourselves! Finally, Project Ventura took a certain degree of creativity- we had to find ways to make the Green Scene Design Team’s project stand out, so we had to think outside of the box and be open to new suggestions. We also had to be prepared for sudden changes, like the addition of a propane system or including an AC system.

While I may not want to remember all the stress and chaos we faced during this project, I know it is challenges like this that make me a better student and help prepare me for difficult tasks I will have to complete in college and future jobs. What I will remember most from Project Ventura is that even if a task seems impossible- like making an old, beat-up trailer eco-friendly on a budget- it can still be accomplished with hard work, support, and a positive attitude.

After presenting our project, we all felt as if a load of stress had been lifted off of us

After presenting our project, we all felt as if a load of stress had been lifted off of us

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