Engineering: Creating solar lamps and valuing collaboration at Shad
In a grade 10 math and science project, Kaleigh Bourgeois designed and printed a 3D desk organizer. A keen-problem solver, Kaleigh quickly mastered the 3D printing software and was encouraged to continue exploring her newfound passion.
Now she’s using her engineering savviness with impact in mind.
Kaleigh is part of Current Generation a club at Riverview High School in New Brunswick, that designs and solders solar lamps to send to countries that suffer from light poverty—an issue that affects 1.3 billion people worldwide.
“We send them to students who are living in these countries because without a proper light source they are unable to study or do their homework after dark, which can have a detrimental effect on their education,” says Kaleigh, Riverview, NB, Shad2019. “By sending them a lamp, they can charge it during the day at school and at nighttime they’ll be able to have light to study.”
She says the group—which is predominately female—meets about twice a week, typically brainstorming their ideas, before they go through the process of actually designing, printing, and soldering their lamps.
“I think it’s pretty empowering to be surrounded by all these young women. I do know that engineering is a male dominated field, but I do believe it is important to have females there for different perspectives, ideas and experiences.”
Kaleigh’s design is still being perfected, but she says a box of lamps from the school was sent overseas last year.
In addition to making lamps, the group attends science fairs and offers presentations at local schools on how to engineer with a purpose.
“It’s interesting to see how younger students can come-up with good ideas too…” says Kaleigh. “We asked them to make a model out of clay with something they would come up with. A lot of them have really good ideas and they were really interested about the topic.”
Kaleigh also tutors students at her school’s innovation lab, showing them how to solder, operate 3D printers and other technology.
“I love when students come in interested in using technology and they just have this drive to make it happen. I love being able to help them with that.”
At Shad, Kaleigh enjoyed being able to collaborate with peers during the Texas Instruments workshop, where students programmed robots and simulated heart attacks.
For the design project, she made a 3D-visual model of her group’s product and learned how to use another software from a teammate.
“I definitely learned something from every single person. I know now that I can appreciate others more and empathize with them and their experiences, which will definitely help me with Current Generation.”
Right now, Kaleigh hopes to become a biomedical engineer, designing rehabilitation devices to help people live their regular lives.
“I really want to work with other people because I think that’s when you come up with the best ideas for whatever you’re building or designing.”