Youth Engineers Club: STEM in an Art School

Walking the halls of Blake, you spot art made by other students and murals plastered on some of the walls. Blake is an arts and humanities school that puts a large focus on its creative programs, offering a wide range of electives for those interested in this trade. Though this may be the reason a lot of students came to Blake, some hold a higher interest in science, technology, engineering, and math. There is a fair share of classes that focus on these topics but they are not as emphasized as the creative electives. That’s why senior Kondwani Phiri, with the help of the teacher sponsor Ms. Zanni, had an idea to start a new club specifically made to highlight STEM among students: The Youth Engineers Club.

“I started the club because I felt Blake, being an art school, doesn’t give enough opportunities to students interested in STEM. So I figured why not take matters into my own hands and start a club where we can help those interested,” explained Phiri. 

And so he did. The purpose of the club is to have a group of students take on multiple projects throughout the year and build anything that seems like fun. “Currently, we want at least a group of 20, we’re going to split into about 4 groups of 5 and have those groups working on the same project in different ways and have healthy competition between them to learn about efficient ways of engineering. This could look like an RC car race, bottle rockets, trebuchets, or really anything that follows the basic design principles,” Phiri expresses.

Phiri has very high hopes for the people who join his club. “I want everybody to feel confident in their engineering skills, a lot of kids have the talent and drive, but lack the confidence in their own abilities. I hope that this club allows everybody to feel that they can wake up and be an engineer as well,” he expresses. 

Phiri is really confident that everyone should consider getting into STEM,“[It’s] the finest balance between creativity and practicality that the world knows. We need engineers because they push innovation and technology. Having the youth allows for fresh minds and better ideas, it’s also a ton of fun and you’ll meet great people along the way.”

The first meeting held a small group of close friends discussing what they thought would be cool projects to work on throughout the year. Phiri quickly got word around about the club, and the next meeting grew around four times its original member count. “I’m very grateful, I also thank [senior] Myles [Rush] and [senior] Jack [Tacchetti] for helping me get everybody together. It just shows how many people are interested in the topic,” says Phiri.

This club is a great addition to the STEM clubs already established at Blake, including Girls who Code and the Math Honors Society. This club is specifically made for any student who is interested in being involved in building fun projects and making new friends.

Phiri has great expectations for this club and is excited to pursue STEM after high school, “I plan on pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at a four-year university. Afterwards, I hope to either go international for a master’s program or begin working as an engineer. Hopefully either Japan or the UK for grad school,” he explained.

The Youth Engineers Club is held every Thursday in room D251 and anyone is welcome to join, regardless of your pre-existing level of STEM knowledge. Phiri hopes that young engineers will be able to experience the full level of extracurricular activities that focus on STEM and be able to achieve in a school that is centered around the arts.