RIFLE, Colorado (CBS4) – Each month during the school year, CBS4, with its partner PDC Energy, honors a high school student who excels in science, technology, engineering or math, STEM. Future Leaders winners receive $1,000 and a profile on CBS4.
The April winner is Conner Harte, a high school student from Coal Ridge High School in Rifle. Harte took on a project that not only helped a classmate, but furthered his education at the same time.
“The text here is in the center when really it should be on the left side,” Harte said while pointing to one of the many problems with his school’s old class signs.
Students with visual impairments will feel the braille letters on the left and miss the braille script centered on the sign. In many cases, the braille on old signs is simply wrong.
The project seemed simple enough. Harte agreed to design correct new panels, manufacture them and replace the old one. A freshman with a visual impairment inspired the project, and Harte was happy to help.
“I realized this would be a good opportunity for my studies and a good way to help this freshman feel more accepted and feel better at this school,” Harte explained.
“It’s so wonderful,” replied meteorologist Lauren Whitney.
Harte had to learn to use computer-aided design, CAD, software.
“There was a lot of trial and error when it came to the design process and the manufacturing process to try to create the best finish possible,” Harte said.
He had to figure out how to turn his text into Braille.
“I used open source programs and software,” he explained.
Harte also had to design the project to work on his school’s 3D printers.
“Our 3D printer didn’t have the capability to print the full-size plates for the teachers’ names,” he said. “What we decided to do is come up with a system to make sure they could fit together in multiple parts.”
Then repeat the process 150 times for each class. For Harte, this project gave him a jump on his college education.
“I’m going to major in mechanical engineering,” he told CBS4.
After hours of imprinting, Harte’s signs can change as teachers move classrooms around and help a student who may be feeling lost and alone.
“It’s really satisfying to know that I can make someone else feel more included and feel better about themselves.”
LINK: For more information on Future Leaders