By Rene Ray De La Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted Dec 11, 2018 at 5:36 PM

VICTORVILLE — Host Joel Greene and his PBS “Curiosity Quest Problem Solvers” film crew were on hand as students from several local high schools participated in the “2nd annual Curiosity Quest Engineering Competition.” Student teams from Apple Valley, Hesperia, Sultana and Yucaipa high schools presented their 3D-printed cantilevered truss structures to educators and GE officials minutes before they were scheduled for testing at the GE Flight Test Operation facility at the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville.

But the stress test was postponed until January after measurements on the GE testing rig didn’t match up with the specifications of the truss structures, which prevented the aluminum rail that was mounted to a hydraulic lifting table from holding the trusses in place.

“You can chalk it up to human error — it happens all the time in the engineering world,” said Exquadrum President Eric Schmidt, whose company hosted the competition last year. “A similar event happened a while back when we were mounting a 110-ton structure for a rocket test and the bolt diameter and holes didn’t line up.”

Tuesday’s test would have included the truss, which simulated an aircraft wing, experiencing a pulling force applied to a Klau Brand 600-pound capacity digital hanging scale.

“After the initial test, the trusses would have gone through a test failure or ultimate load that would indicate how capable the truss was before it shattered,” Schmidt said. “Trusses are used from residential homes to bridges, and in this particular case it represented the wing structure of an aircraft.”

Before the scheduled test, students Elliot Sazo and Robert Araujo from Hesperia High School, Kenna Morrison from Yucaipa High School and Aiden Wilkin from Apple Valley High School, shared some of the challenges in developing their structures.

“We wanted to print our truss out of carbon fiber nylon but it didn’t work out that well,” Wilkin said. “This one is printed with ABS plastic. It’s very light but it may not be that strong in the end, but we’ll have to see.”

Tyler Haglund, the physics teacher and engineering academy coordinator at AVHS, said his competition team of juniors and sophomores focus mainly on advanced manufacturing in the classroom.

“We had a bit of a fiasco with us trying to have a new tool delivered to build the truss so our kids had to work through that issue,” Haglund told the Daily Press. “But our kids worked through the challenge and did a great job creating their project.”

Haglund said one of Apple Valley Unified’s missions is to introduce middle school students to STEM programs such as “robotics or makerspaces.”

Makerspaces, also referred to as hackerspaces, are creative, do-it-yourself spaces where the inventive gather to create and learn using hand tools, software, 3D printers, electronics, craft and hardware supplies and more.

“Once students get to the high school level, we really try to partner with local industries to help students fine-tune what they want to pursue when they graduate,” Haglund said. “At Apple Valley High, we try to reframe the question of ‘what do you want to be?’ to ‘what kind of problem do you want to solve?’”

The first phase of this year’s engineering competition occurred in October when students used their math and science skills to design the cantilevered truss structure that was 3D printed.

Greene told the Daily Press the environment, lack of water in some areas and the different challenges students face to solve various challenges make the High Desert one of his favorite places to visit.

“I live in Rancho Cucamonga and I’ve traveled all over the country, but there’s nothing like the High Desert,” said Green, 44, who’s been with the PBS program for nearly 19 years. “The number one thing I’ve learned in this job is to stay curious because there’s always something to learn.”

Green said his favorite part of hosting the show is when he experiences students encountering their “own a-ha moment” of discovery during their own curiosity quest.

Last year, “Curiosity Quest” was on hand at Exquadrum when student engineering teams from AVHS, HHS and SHS tested their 3-D printed, sphere-shaped containers filled with water to see if they could withstand up to 500 pounds of pressure per square inch for 10 seconds at the lowest weight possible.

The annual engineering competition is a collaboration of GE, Exquadrum, Victor Valley College Foundation Deputy Sector Navigator, Business & Entrepreneurship Lisa Kiplinger and Curiosity Quest Productions.

For more information about “Curiosity Quest Problem Solvers,” visit

Reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227,, Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz

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