A team of all-female engineer high school students from San Fernando High School have banded together their brain power to design and build a solar-powered tent for the homeless. The tents’ engineering design includes everything from insulated fabric and solar panels to a safety locking system and a UV system to sanitize the tent, all to ensure the safety and comfort of those living in them. The design and construction process involved, among other tasks, coding, electrical wiring, and sewing.
The students are one of 15 teams of young inventors in the United States to receive the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Grant, which offers high school students $10,000 to solve real-world problems by inventing technological solutions. The real world problem that the students saw and attuned their project to was a 36% increase of homelessness in San Fernando Valley in 2016.
“How many people are actually trying to help them [the homeless] or make them feel better? Letting them know that people still care about them, and they are still human,” said 12th-grader Daniela Orozco.
The girls’ are putting their compassion to work. “It’s not about us. It’s not about what we do or how great we can be. It’s what we can do to make this world a better place for these people, a better place for everyone,” said 12th-grader Maggie Mejia.
The team will present their project at a showcase at MIT in June. Most of the girls come from low-income communities; hence they have set up GoFundMe to raise the $15,000 necessary to get the whole team there.
The publicity from the grant and project has had other positive impacts on San Fernando High School. “A lot of our young girls, who originally or normally would not think about engineering or science, are inspired to do so for next year,” said Violet Mardirosian, coordinator of the school’s math, science and technology program.