HAST Students Showcase Projects

Article written by Carmen McCollum, Northwest Indiana Times, published on their website, NWITimes.com

HAMMOND | Eight Hammond Academy of Science and Technology seniors showcased STEM-related projects Tuesday at the Purdue University Calumet Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation.

The HAST students have been working under the direction of Purdue Calumet graduate engineering students and Chenn Zhou, interim associate vice chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies and the center’s director.

The HAST Project Lead the Way class has been working on the project since August. The students developed projects using the center’s advanced simulation and 3-D visualization and virtual reality technologies. The goal of the program is to increase students’ passion for science and technology.

Four projects were completed — “Virtual Downtown Hammond” by David Castillo and Ivy Westerhoff; “Simulation, Modeling and Visualization of an Industrial Boiler” by Jeremy Amft; “Educational Wind Energy Game App” by Matthew Brown, Brandon Swart and Jose Rodriguez; and “3-D Printing Techniques” by Marc Suarez and Neftali Alteaga.

Westerhoff said she and Castillo believe downtown Hammond is an amazing location.

“We started with a blank slate,” she said. “We walked around downtown Hammond and took pictures and get a feel for which section we wanted to do. We added the building. We added it to a map and from there, we created a video game.” 

That project will be posted on the city of Hammond’s website.

Arteaga drew a few chuckles from the crowd when he said he’d like to see his charter school buy a 3-D printer.

“I’m saving up my money. I want to have a 3-D printer at home,” he said.

The trio of seniors who focused on wind energy talked about the growth in wind turbines across the country. Along Interstate 65 south in Benton County, there are several wind turbines, the students pointed out.

They talked about some of the problems they faced while working on the project, including animation.

“It’s a $10 billion industry and is steadily growing,” Swart said.

Zhou said she is so proud of the high school students and the graduate students who served as mentors.

“They worked together so well. It’s almost impossible for high school students to be able to achieve this level. They learned so much by doing this,” she said.

Swart’s grandmother Sue Yekich of Lansing said she thought the student presentations were fabulous.

“They thought things through,” she said. “They had to work out quite a few obstacles. They made some advancements. The wind energy is something that is going to take off more and more. Teaching these kids now and watching them learn how to make it work is great.”

David Castillo, left, and Ivy Westerhoff, both seniors at Hammond Academy of Science and Technology, present their project "Virtual Hammond," on Tuesday at the HAST Student Showcase at Purdue University Calumet.

David Castillo, left, and Ivy Westerhoff, both seniors at Hammond Academy of Science and Technology, present their project “Virtual Hammond,” on Tuesday at the HAST Student Showcase at Purdue University Calumet. PHOTO CREDIT: Eddie Quinones, The Times