PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Fifteen teams from seven area high schools faced off in an engineering competition on Thursday.
The students were all tasked with inventing an autonomous putting machine and put their inventions to the test at the Boys and Girls Club.
The machines were first scored on accuracy before heading into the battle round — where every team shot at once at a large target, knocking each other's golf balls out of the way to see who would be the closest.
"The goal is to reach out to high school students and make sure they have an outlet for design," Liz Bocchino, a systems engineer with General Dynamics, said. "The key message here is to have fun with science."
The competition is funded by the company's engineering leadership program and tied in with engineer's week, which is typically held in February. The organizers reached out to more than 20 high schools and tasked teams to invent a putter.
The schools were given the task in November so teachers could build the project into their curriculum. The schools spanned from bordering towns in New York — Berlin and New Lebanon — to five Berkshire towns — Hoosac Valley, St. Joe, Taconic, Lenox and Pittsfield high schools.
The students were responsible for their own materials and the company encouraged them to use already available material — teaching the value of reusing materials and building at low cost. The competition is one way the company supports STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, Bocchino said, with hopes more students will enroll in science programs.
The company provides schools with a different invention task each year. Last year, the students were asked to build catapults.