UXBRIDGE — A team of four Uxbridge High School students was the overall winner of the Online Industry Challenge, an engineering design competition sponsored by the Mass STEM Hub and conducted in conjunction with industry professionals from Seaboard Folding Box Company and Abbott-Action Inc.

The students – Joe Costa, Wiley Kimball, Braden Pomeroy and Josh Schweibish – earned the win for their design, not only as the best submission from Uxbridge High Schoo, but from across Massachusetts, which includes more than 100 secondary schools.

"I could not be prouder of our program and all the students who participated," said Principal Michael Rubin. "That UHS students are among the top future engineers and innovators in the Commonwealth is a credit to the program and the support that so many have put in the hands of our school and educators."

In the Project Lead The Way Introduction to Engineering Design class, high school students dig deep into the engineering design process, applying math, science, and engineering standards to hands-on projects. After learning about engineering design and manufacturing, they apply that knowledge to work in teams to design, test, and improve a manufacturing process to build boxes. The boxes the students build are key components to a later project in the course.

Through the Online Industry Challenge, students submitted their work to two Massachusetts box manufacturing companies: Abbott-Action Inc., a corrugated and protective packaging manufacturer with sites in Attleboro, Canton, and Northboro, and Seaboard Folding Box Company, a custom structural packaging company based in Westminster. Students received feedback from industry professionals on their submitted technical drawings, manufacturing process flows, and images of their prototype boxes, connecting the work they did in the classroom to the work these experts do daily. The professionals at each company were impressed by the great work students did and excited to share their insights.

"We see these partnerships, where students and STEM professionals are able to connect around the real-world projects done in the classroom, as a critical complement to high-quality STEM programs," said Andreina Parisi-Amon, director of partnerships for Mass STEM Hub. "Huge thanks to the professionals at Seaboard Folding Box Company and Abbott-Action, Inc., who reviewed student submissions and provided expert feedback around improving technical drawings and manufacturing process flows based on their years of experience - connecting the work Project Lead The Way students are doing in the classroom to the work they're doing everyday on the manufacturing floor."

Seaboard Folding Box Co. is a custom structural packaging company based in Westminster, Massachusetts. Student work was reviewed at Seaboard by their Vice President of Sales and Marketing; from Abbott-Action, Inc., a corrugated and protective packaging manufacturer with sites in Attleboro, Canton, and Northboro, the student work was reviewed by a team of professionals including a Marketing Manager, Structural Designer, and Protective Packaging Engineer.

All of the teams that submitted the design from the classes of Michael Smutok and Melissa Silva, both teachers in the high school's Project Lead the Way engineering program, received specific feedback from industry professionals on their process flow diagrams, technical processes, and prototype drawings. For their win, the high school team earned ribbons, certificates, and Rocketbook notebooks. Additionally, Seaboard will be sponsoring a field trip for the entire class to visit their box manufacturing site in Westminster because of the UHS students' competitive win.

"We were thrilled to work with local box manufacturing companies, Seaboard Folding Box Company and Abbott-Action, Inc., to connect students and professionals around the manufacturing a box project students completed in their PLTW Introduction to Engineering course," Parisi-Amon added. "The professionals at each were impressed by the great work students did and excited to share their insights."

"It is certainly one thing to have your work evaluated by your teacher, and quite another to be evaluated at this level by industry professionals," Rubin said. "This brings our partnerships with industry to life and helps students see relevance in what they are learning. We are grateful for the opportunities our partners at Mass STEM Hub and Project Lead the Way have opened up for the students of Uxbridge."

Mass STEM Hub is a program of the OneS Foundation that partners with schools to implement high-quality, applied learning programs. Their mission is to provide schools with access to and support for premier STEM programming that engages students and prepares them for 21st

century careers.

Project Lead The Way is the first Mass STEM Hub initiative. PLTW has grown from a high school engineering program to offering comprehensive PreK-12 pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, balancing the rigor and engagement needed to have a real impact for students.

Follow Joseph Fitzgerald on Twitter @jofitz7

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