JFK ‘Hafa Hive’ wins Real World Design Challenge

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The John F. Kennedy High School Hafa Hive took the top spot nationally in the Real World Design Challenge, an annual engineering competition sponsored by Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. The team also won 3rd place internationally.

The annual challenge allows students to take on contemporary real world problems akin to fourth year university engineering projects. While the team had originally prepared to leave off island to participate in this year’s competition, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an unexpected shift, with the team having to prepare for the competition virtually.

“They decided that even though school was out, they were going to finish all the way to nationals,” coach and advisor Colette Beausoliel said. “They put so much time in and they wanted to see how well they could do; the COVID pandemic did not deter them from their goal, which was to do the very best they could do.”

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with classes canceled as of March 16, 2020, students prepared for the competition at a distance. The team had 15 minutes to present an 80 page APA formatted engineering design paper, which they practiced remotely while at home, with Ms. Beausoliel coaching them remotely. The students participated in the final presentation on April 25, 2020, with each team member required to present some aspect of the presentation.

Team Hafa Hive won 1st place nationally, and also won 3rd place internationally. The international competition included teams from throughout the United States, China, the Philippines, and India, among others.

“I just think that it shows that these students are determined. As educators we strive to get them ready for life, and I think these kids are,” Beausoliel said. “They had something really unfortunate come their way, and they just took it in stride, made the adjustments, used technology, and found their way to victory.”