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Summer SAVY, Session 4 Day 4, Engineering 101 (7th – 8th)

Posted by on Thursday, July 11, 2024 in blog, SAVY.

Thank you for sending your students in today with closed-toed shoes. After quickly covering Electrical Engineering and a subtype called Power Engineering, we saw electricity being generated with natural gas turbines, and we saw that the exhaust from the turbines can be harnessed to create steam to save energy. The tour was definitely a highlight of the week for me. 

After lunch, students had many questions about how the generation equipment they saw worked, and how Electrical and Mechanical engineers collaborated to create a natural gas turbine and generator. Students learned about how gearboxes change torque and rotation speed, and the challenges currently facing engineers with gearbox design in wind turbines. 

Renewable energy sources like wind and solar can be extremely plentiful, but engineers must develop new ways to store energy when the wind is blowing, and the sun is shining to discharge it when they are not. Students learned that while pumped hydro is a very simple system that can use standard hydroelectric dams, the amount of energy storage required would require a massive number of dams that would each be over twice the height of the Hoover Dam. We finished the day by learning about the challenges still facing clean, reliable, efficient, and cheap energy from nuclear fusion.  

Dinner Table Questions: 

  • How is nuclear fusion started? What problems are there with nuclear fusion? 
  • What is a gearbox and what does it do? Also, does your car have a CVT or a transmission with set speeds? 
  • How is electricity generated using natural gas? 
  • What is the difference between superheated and saturated steam, and which one is more dangerous? 


If you have time, please have your student watch (or watch with them) the Real Engineering YouTube video on Helion, a company currently designing and engineering a novel way to generate power from fusion. I will be watching it again tonight, and I would love to field their questions on the information they gather from this video. 

Have a great rest of your day. We will be finishing this week of Engineering 101 with Chemical and Biological Engineering tomorrow. I have had an incredible time teaching your students this week, and I am sad my last day with them is tomorrow.