Weekly roundup: Estancia High engineering students take top honors at local competition; governor’s budget proposes significant funding for education; and more

Engineering students from Estancia High School in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District recently landed a first-place team win at the 2021 Vital Link Energy Invitational Engineering Design Competition for turning a simple go-kart into an extremely energy-efficient electric car.

Estancia engineering students NMUSD

The sixteen seniors — dubbed “Team Havoc” — were tasked with crafting a vehicle large enough to accommodate a driver that could travel as fast and as far as possible on only $1 worth of energy.

The result? Working together, Team Havoc designed and built an electric car that based on initial testing is capable of reaching speeds up to 30 mph while using only 1.0 kilowatt-hour for more than an hour of continuous driving.

According to the Daily Pilot, the project earned them 47 points out of a possible 48 resulting in a first-place win over competitors from schools in Huntington Beach, Tustin, Long Beach and Hacienda Heights.

Estancia Engineering Design Teacher and Team Havoc’s Advisor Gerald Rizza, explained to the Daily Pilot that the competition was a capstone project for seniors enrolled in the school’s Project Lead the Way career pathway and that the team was on a very tight timeline to complete the project.

“I am so proud of the professional design work the Estancia engineering teams accomplished in a period of less than three months under very challenging circumstances,” said Rizza. “In my prior life as an energy sector project director, I hired many young engineers out of college and I can tell you that these students stepped up and exceeded my wildest expectations as they demonstrated teamwork, collaboration and communication over the course of this fast-tracked project.”

And here are some of the other stories we’ve been following this week:

  • Serra High School in the Capistrano Unified School District is reverting to its original name of Capistrano Union High School, after the Board of Trustees approved the renaming during recent board meeting. The campus is separate from JSerra Catholic High School, also in San Juan.
  • Leveraging the theme “Know My Name, Face and Story,” Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares this week hosted a special virtual seminar in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
  • In related news, a student group from Foothill High School in the Tustin Unified School District has created a series of ten stylized posters in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, each commemorating an important historical figure with an inspirational quote.
  • Although all schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District have reopened, the vast majority of students are opting to continue remote learning, with the district reporting Monday that just 7% of high schoolers, 12% of middle schoolers and 30% of elementary children are back in the classroom.
  • And finally, the Los Alamitos Unified Board of Trustees this week unanimously approved social justice standards, a set of guidelines for K-12 teachers and administrators to develop curriculum and make schools more equitable and safe. Meanwhile, the debate over the inclusion of ethnic studies courses continues across Orange County, reports the Voice of OC.

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