Greencastle senior takes part in Operation Catapult at Rose-Hulman

Monday, August 28, 2006

Rena Warren isn't afraid to take on new challenges.

She isn't afraid to think outside of the box, either.

This summer, the Greencastle High School senior had to think outside of the box.

Warren spent three weeks of her summer at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, learning about engineering and science through the university's Operation Catapult program.

The program is in its 40th year and 106 incoming high school seniors from 29 states, Greece and Saudi Arabia, took part in the program this year. Twenty-five of the students were from Indiana.

The program offers students the opportunity to be problem solvers in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, biomedical engineering and computer science.

"It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will never get to experience again," Warren said of her three-week stay at Rose-Hulman. :It was learning for the sake of learning.

"Sometimes, school gets monotonous, but this sparked an interest in education."

While at the program, Warren and the other students learned about nanotechnology, fuel cells and biomechanics. Other students managed to construct a dune buggy, a human-powered refrigerator, and solar chimney energy generator. In addition, students studied how to create a better battery and computer games.

Warren said she was contacted by Rose-Hulman inquiring whether she would attend the program earlier in the summer, but she wasn't sure she would be able to attend.

However, after talking to GHS assistant tennis coach Sally Martin, she changed her mind.

Warren said Sally's daughter, Kate Martin, attended the program a few years ago.

"We called, and they had an opening," Warren said. "It was amazing. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.:

Warren was with a group of students at the camp that contructed a holonomic motion robot.

She said the robot used a sensor program to run on its own.

Distance sensors inside the robot enabled it to not bump into anything. Warren worked on wiring and schematics for the robot.

"I was fascinated. I just decided to go for it," Warren said of working on the robot. "I had no idea about wiring. I completely started from scratch.:

While attending the program, Warren and the other students also had an opportunity to learn more about college life, as they stayed on the campus and attended lectures.

"It was so much fun," Warren said of spending time on campus. "They had a vast variety of things.

"I'm not as scared about going to college now. I think my focus is a little different now."

Warren said she has been taking courses through Project Lead the Way at Greencastle and has an interest in pursuing a possible career in biomedical engineering.

She hasn't ruled out attending Rose-Hulman after graduating.

She is the daughter of Norm Warren and Heidi Beckman-Warren.

Students that took part in the program are eligible to receive a $5,000 scholarship from Rose-Hulman.

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