St. Mary Parish 8th graders win national engineering competition

HALES CORNERS – St. Mary Parish School in Hales Corners now has bragging rights, after a group of students won a national engineering competition.

Three eighth-graders - Caroline Mohr, Thomas Chelius and Emily Chmielewski were the brains behind winning project in the “Future City Competition.”  They had to build a city of the future using an alternative or renewable energy source.  They chose to use water.

"Blue energy, known as reverse-electrodialysis.  When sea water and river water are pumped into a membrane plant, the atoms go to selective membranes and it creates power,” Chmielewski said.

The trio called its city Hyperion. It's a city of the future, and a project five months in the making. “Hyperion is the Greek titan of light,” Chmielewski said.

In January, the group won the regional competition held at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Two weeks ago in Virginia, they beat 1,300 other middle schools nationwide to become national champions. “It's so unbelievable.  There were so many amazing teams there and they had these beautiful models and great presentations,” Mohr said. “It felt great.  I didn't really expect it.  I thought we might make finals,” Chelius said.

“They are so deserving of this.  I could not be more excited and more happy for them,” science teacher Sarah Massopus said.

The program is aimed at helping students develop science and engineering skills.  So to Massopus, her students’ win means more than just a trophy. “They're going to be our leaders.  They're the ones that are going to be inventing new things, new technologies,” Massopus said.

As grand prize winners, the three involved will get to visit the U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, AL.  Also, St. Mary Parish School will receive a 10-seat academic suite of engineering software.