330 students share capstone projects during fifth annual Senior Showcase

330 students share capstone projects during fifth annual Senior Showcase

KC STEM Alliance Awards $10,000 in scholarships and the chance to test project marketability in ‘Make It REAL’ Workshop on June 3

Kansas City, MO (April 20, 2016)—More than 300 students filled Union Station’s Sprint Festival Plaza with innovative solutions to problems large and small during KC STEM Alliance’s fifth annual Project Lead The Way Senior Showcase on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

The Showcase highlighted students’ senior capstone projects from the Engineering Design and Development and Biomedical Innovations PLTW courses. The event celebrated students’ ingenuity and creativity while connecting them with college and business partners and culminated with an awards ceremony to recognize winners in three related competitions.

Dave Dimmett, Project Lead The Way’s Senior Vice President of School Engagement, addressed the group of aspiring engineers and scientists during the ceremony, noting that with 330 students from 30 schools, this event is the largest of its kind in the United States.

The PLTW engineering and biomedical science design competitions highlight the importance of design thinking and problem solving. Students build an online portfolio around their senior capstone projects and submit them online through Project Lead The Way’s Innovation Portal. Practicing professionals review and judge the portfolios online.

Engineering Design Competition

Fifty-five student teams submitted projects in the Kansas City Engineering Design Competition. The top 10 teams were recognized at the Senior Showcase and the top three teams were awarded scholarship prizes and awards for their respective schools.

Cailyn Crowley and Joshua Kalig from Truman High School took first place and a $2,500 scholarship with their design for an adjustable clothes hanger. Alex Burroughs and Ibrahim Yilla of Blue Springs South High School took second place and a $2,500 scholarship with “The Sink Shield.” Dylan Smith and Collin Hopfenzitz from Kearney High School designed “Project Sunflower,” a solar-powered bench designed to allow visitors to public spaces an easy way to recharge devices, winning third place and a $1,000 scholarship.

Biomedical Sciences Competition

Eighty students from 47 teams participated in the first Biomedical Innovation online contest. Allison Renner of Lee’s Summit North High School won first place for her Mouse Bone Density project, which examined the effect gender and age have on bone density and risk of fracture. She received a $2,500 scholarship from KC STEM Alliance. The second place prize and a $1,500 scholarship went to Elise Collins and Priscilla Jones of Raytown South High School and Summit Technology for their work on broadening the host range of bacteriophages. Sarah Alley of Lee’s Summit North/Summit Technology took third place and a $1,000 scholarship with “The Prevalence of MRSA in Schools.”

Innovator Awards Competition

Five additional teams won Innovator Awards during the Showcase. Fifty-four teams were nominated by their teachers to take part in this competition, designed to recognize innovation and marketability of projects in the showcase. Twenty-five “guest investors” from the business, academic and entrepreneurial fields heard students pitch their innovations and determined the winners by investing $1,000 in “Commerce bucks” in the projects they deemed to have the most innovation and market potential.

The top five finishers included:

  • ?  Slow-Release Growth Hormone Implant by Kaitlin Hoff of Blue Springs South High School
  • ?  Hexa-waders by Corey Jackson and Nell Sandring Wesemann of Blue Springs South High School
  • ?  MedBuddy by Drew Brooks and Nicholas Fowler of Shawnee Mission High School
  • ?  K&L Flag Mount by Vincent Kent and Harrison Lara of William Chrisman High School
  • ?  UVGC Baby Changing Station by Brooke Welle and Justin Carlsen of Grain Valley High/Summit Tech Academy

These teams along with the top 10 finishers in each of the online design contests are invited to attend the Make It REAL Workshop hosted by mentors from KC SourceLink and the Center for Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development (C.E.E.D.) on June 3 at the Kansas City Engineering Zone. Top teams from this event may apply for scholarships to complete the Kauffman FastTrac entrepreneurial program.

Senior Showcase scholarships are made possible by KC STEM Alliance’s major financial supporters, including:


Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Black & Veatch
Burns & McDonnell
Google fiber
UMKC School of Computing & Engineering


Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the nation’s leading provider of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum and high-quality teacher professional development model. For more information, visit www.pltw.org

KC STEM Alliance is a collaborative network of educators, business affiliates and organizations that inspires interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers by supporting K-12 STEM education and programs. The KC STEM Alliance partners with organizations like Project Lead the Way that share the vision of creating a robust and sustainable regional STEM workforce. Learn more at www.kcstem.org