San Jose Mercury News: Downtown College Prep Engineering Students Make Finals of Samsung Contest

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News March 14, 2015.

By Sal Pizarro

The Engineering Club at Downtown College Prep Alum Rock is leaving for a big adventure next week, and the school — which shares a campus with Independence High School in East San Jose — cheered them on at an assembly Friday.

The club is one of 15 national finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow STEM Competition and are leaving Tuesday for the finals in New York City, where they hope to be selected as one of five national winners that will receive a $120,000 technology grant (the public can vote online through March 25 for one of the winners). Luis Ruelas, the engineering and geometry teacher who advises the club, encouraged students they could succeed on the timely project, a household system to recycle water from washing machines and showers for use in toilets and garden irrigation.

He said it not a surprise to see high-achieving schools from high-income parts of the Bay Area succeed in contests like this one, which just makes the scrappy effort by the DCP team resound even more. The team of freshmen and sophomores is mostly Latino and includes several girls, both groups Ruelas says need more representation in engineering fields.

“It tells society that our students might have the talent but don’t necessarily have the resources,” said Ruelas, an engineer who graduated from Independence High and San Jose State.

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