Classified Information: REV Engineering meets at Area 51 to build boats


“You’re not a spy, are you?”

What a strange question for a simple journalist like me; however, it did not distract me from my goal of exposing—I mean—showcasing one of Engineering Club’s biggest events of the school year: boat building.

Every year, Redlands East Valley Engineering takes on the Inland Solar Challenge, a solar-powered boat building and racing competition for high school students across the Inland Empire. The event is three days long and held at Yucaipa Regional Park.

As of April 2019, the club is in the building stage and will head to the park in late May. I took this chance to observe the members and ask them questions.

First subject of interest: Nga Nguyen. She is the skipper, the person who rides and steers the boat upon racing day. She has been the secretary of the club for two years. When asked about her favorite part of boat building, she stated that she liked building something to see it work.

Second subject of interest: Aaron Hill. Hill is a member of Engineering club. This was his statement to the same question I asked Nguyen: “It has a team environment rather than [the usual] solo one. It also builds growth in skills as an engineer.”

Members performed tasks like worker bees, buzzing in and out of the room constantly. The smiles on their faces and the inside jokes they shared created a warm atmosphere as they fiddled with tools.

Third subject of interest: Matthew Mikhailov. He is the current president of the club and has been a member since his freshman year. I asked him what his favorite boat-building year was, and he replied after some careful consideration, “My favorite has to be this year. It gets better every year.”

The team worked productively and divided naturally into teams that focused on different parts of the boats. For example, Nguyen and Mikhailov worked on a pulley system; Hill, Austin Tran and others touched up on the floor of the boat; and new freshman members were tasked with smaller tasks like filling holes or cutting wood.

These members were clearly innovative, telling me of a story of how they improvised a level using a plastic container and water. They measured the level of water on both sides to see if they were actually even. Nostalgia and laughter filled the room as they recalled that day. The plastic container used is kept on top of their tool cabinets along with other knick-knacks they said they would reveal to me later, but I have no doubt that those too symbolize an important memory.

Fourth subject of interest: Emil Radoi. Radoi is REV’s physics and pre-engineering teacher as well as the club’s advisor. He told me that the club first started partaking in the competition 11 years ago when then principal, John Maloney, suggested it to him. “I said to him, ‘Well, I’ve never built a boat before. I haven’t skipped one either, but we’ll do it,’” he recounted.

Now, I am no spy, but records have told me that REV took third place last year in the challenge, an amazing feat after a few months of hard work. We can rest assured that we can expect another spectacular result for this year.

If you are interested in participating in boat building, there is still time. Engineering Club meets regularly at lunch on Tuesdays in E-101, and boat building takes place in J-51, which is jokingly called Area 51 (or is it?), after school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays unless stated otherwise. The club also works on other projects, explores different engineering topics and takes field trips to places like ESRI and Virgin Orbit among many other STEM-related trips.

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