The Department of Energy is looking for a few good teenagers.
Its Real World Design Challenge in 2009 will focus on redesigning an existing aircraft "to improve its fuel efficiency without drastically reducing its performance capabilities." It's a competition for high school students to work on engineering challenges that face professionals in the field.
The DOE touts the challenge with lofty rhetoric: The program is designed to "ensure the future of our Nation's economic competitiveness and national security by inspiring todays students to become tomorrows engineers."
True, the nation's woeful math, science and engineering educational statistics are a growing concern for experts looking ahead to the challenges we face, particularly the challenge of re-engineering the economy to run more efficiently, and on non-polluting and renewable sources of energy.
As airline companies will tell you, fuel consumption is a major expense -- one that threatened the viability of several major carriers when the price of oil went through the roof this summer.
And because airlines burn so much fossil fuel, the environmental cost is steep -- all the steeper because their emissions occur at high altitudes, where there's no carbon sink to reduce the emissions.
Sixty five teams of students, each in grades 9-12, will participate in 10 states: Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. Winners from each state will compete nationally.
Good luck, kids.
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