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CHS Engineering Students Among Participants at Aggies Invent Junior Halliburton Challenge

            Four Cleburne High School students will be among the future engineers participating in this weekend’s Aggies Invent Junior Halliburton Challenge taking place at Texas A & M University.

            The by invitation-only event will be providing an “intense design experience,” focused on solving real-world needs in this high school version of the TAMU College of Engineering’s Aggies Invent program. Eleventh and twelfth graders will be introduced to various challenges, as they team up with students from across Texas in an active design process, tailored to simulate the industry environment. The challenge of this real-world experience will have teams engaged in brainstorming as they develop ideas and solutions. The final phase of the exercise will have students building and testing a mock prototype of their design, culminating in a “selling” presentation to judges.

            Texas A & M and challenge sponsor Halliburton will provide judges and mentors, giving participants access to experts in engineering and design in their 1.5 days on the job.

            The Invent Junior opportunity is right up the alley of Annabelle Yarbrough, the sole senior in the Cleburne delegation. She views herself as an inventor, from the time she was small.

            “I’ve been working on inventing stuff—mechanisms and machines—all my life,” she said. “My brother is a big rig mechanic and has taught me a lot about tools and building things. I’m a very team-oriented person and am looking forward to meeting people with the same interests in engineering that I have. If I have the chance to work on something involving rural energy or the environment, that will be the job I choose.”

            Engineering teacher Roel Peña will be accompanying his students to the challenge, which will take place Friday and Saturday. The Jacket delegation also includes juniors Hugo Cuellar, Jose Sanchez and Josie Peña.

            “This is an invention process event,” Peña said. “Every team will learn how to go through the invention design experience. Our students will not be on the same team. Every student will work in groups based on their specific interests—they will choose where they want to work. One student may be interested in coming up with solutions to rural electric needs while another may want to help big cities develop rooftop energy generation.”

            The Aggies Invent Junior “challenge” facing participants has all the aspects of a real-world situation: “With constantly evolving technologies reshaping our daily lives, energy industries from all over the world are seeking solutions to power future generations. How do you combat climate change, yet still meet the rising demand for energy and distribute it to the 7.5 billion people in the world in an affordable and sustainable way?”

            “They will be solving problems, not just designing,” Peña said. “This will be showing students another aspect of engineering, with the end user in mind. This will be about meeting the needs of people.”

            Meeting the needs of others through engineering speaks to Yarbrough, and what she wants to do in the profession. Her plan of study at Colorado State University is civil/chemical engineering. Her career goal is to use the knowledge and skills she obtains for the benefit of others. Yarbrough is already working on the design of a water filtration cup that will turn surface water into fresh, drinkable water--for the people of Africa.  

            “There is a real need in Africa for access to clean drinking water,” she said. “I want my college degree to help others. My desire is to invent and create in fulfilling my passion for others.”

            Peña says Yarbrough’s enthusiasm for the Aggies Invent Junior opportunity is a reflection of the entire Cleburne team as they prepare for this weekend’s experience.

            “They are very excited to be a part of this and to have the opportunity to meet other kids interested in engineering,” Peña said. “They will do a great job collaborating with the teammates they will be meeting for the first time.  In engineering, they are used to working with others on projects. They collaborate in all their classes—that’s part of our high school DNA.”

            The winning teams will be presented with prizes at the conclusion of the event, with all students recognized with certificates.



Cleburne High School senior Annabelle Yarbrough looks for a specific part as she strives to complete a robotics project. She and three fellow CHS engineering students will be among the participants in this weekend’s Aggies Invent Junior Halliburton Challenge taking place at Texas A & M University.