Casco Bay High School Teacher, Students Winners in Engineering Contest

tidally influenced generator

Casco Bay High School science teacher Anne Loughlin and her engineering students are among the grand prize winners in this year’s Autodesk Make It Real Challenge 2020, an engineering competition. The win means CBHS will receive more than $10,000 in makerspace tools for its DIY lab.

“I am so proud of Ms. Loughlin and our engineering students for their creative and provocative solutions for addressing knotty, vital tech and social justice challenges,” said CBHS Principal Derek Pierce. “Hooray for Anne and her students!”

Autodesk, Inc. is an American multinational software corporation that makes software services for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, education, and entertainment industries.

This year’s contest was directed at educators in New England interested in teaching their students how to make a difference through design. There were three Grand Prize winners in the 2020 contest: Linden STEAM Academy in Malden, Mass., Jackson/Mann K-8 School in Boston and Casco Bay High School.

In the contest’s Make Justice challenge, Loughlin led her students in researching issues of poverty, disaster relief, and affordable housing, according to the company’s blog post on the winners. https://blog.tinkercad.com/make-it-real-2020-grand-prize-award-winners

Loughlin explained that her students did research on the future of housing to understand the innovations that are currently on their way to the marketplace. “We continually looked at meeting the needs of the users of these products. We started with the empathy resources that were provided [in the ‘Make Justice’ challenge.],” she said. “After creating their initial sketches, we did a tuning protocol where they got feedback from peers on their designs.”

Loughlin encouraged students to design for the context of their oceanside community — resulting in innovative ideas such as a tidally influenced generator. Her students used a variety of Autodesk tools, such as Formit for affordable housing design and Fusion 360 to visualize concepts such as a portable, solar-powered heater for the homeless population, and a caddy for collecting gray water, the blog said.

“I think as much as possible, [the students] tended to think about their projects in the context of our community, Portland, and what they have seen and experienced. Our school serves a large immigrant community,” said Loughlin, whose students include refugees fleeing violence and persecution. “Issues of poverty are part of daily life for many of my students. This also provides a personal perspective on the needs of the user.”

Designs like an emergency shelter made from shipping containers had personal meaning for students whose families had emigrated as refugees.

Loughlin has been teaching science in Portland Schools since 1991. Ms. Loughlin earned recognition as one of the nation’s top teachers by winning the prestigious Milken Award in 2003. Loughlin created CBHS’ Digital Fabrication lab and teaches engineering, STEM investigations and AP environmental science.