Teaching Students Real-Word Problem Solving

Entertainment Engineering
Student Challenge

Committed to inspiring the next generation of engineers, we are partnering with Bergen County Technical High Schools’ Applied Technology High School to bring some real-world problem solving into the classroom.

Entertainment Engineers, Nadia Itani and Matt Saide, PE presented the “Young Frankenstein: Blind Man’s Cottage” challenge which required students to develop their own innovative approaches to the various design requirements and apply them to a Broadway scenic element project that a member of the McLaren team had tackled years before.

The high-school sophomores were asked to develop ideas for a “cottage” set element used in the show’s production that needed to be fabricated with a reusable “breakaway wall,” another “knock-down” door that wouldn’t compromise the designer’s aesthetic vision, and off-stage storage solutions for hanging the cottage when not in use. All ideas needed to be viable enough to be repeated for up to eight shows a week!

The students had one week to imagine the possibilities and bring their solutions to the table. They brought their best critical thinking to the challenge and came up creative ideas to the problems before the McLaren team presented the actual solution built for the show. The main lessons learned: There isn’t a “right or perfect answer” but you can over-engineer a solution! Students were able to see how sometimes excessively complex designs can cost a project too much time and money. Effective engineering can be simple when you learn how to think differently.