Seacoast School of Technology Students Earn Two Awards at State Engineering Exposition for 4D Printing Project

Left to right: Junior Samara Holmes, NHSEE Special Awards Coordinator Robert Rotier and sophomore McKayla Hartman. (Courtesy Photo SST)

Left to right: Junior Samara Holmes, NHSEE Special Awards Coordinator Robert Rotier and sophomore McKayla Hartman. (Courtesy Photo SST)

EXETER -- Two Seacoast School of Technology students earned two Excellence Awards at the New Hampshire Science and Engineering Exposition for their innovative project that explored fourth dimensional printing.

Junior Samara Holmes, of Exeter High School, and sophomore McKayla Hartman, of Newmarket High School, earned the Yale Science and Engineering Award and a $2,000 scholarship each to the New Hampshire Academy of Science during NHSEE on March 21.

NHSEE serves as an opportunity for students to complete science-related activities, either as inquiring scientists, engineers, or technicians. Students then present their projects to a panel of judges through journals, posters, equipment and interviews.

Holmes, who is currently in SST's Computer Science program after finishing the Pre-Engineering course last year, and Hartman, who is in her second year of the Pre-Engineering program, presented on their "Investigating the Activation Method of 4D Printed Structures" at the event.

"As soon as I looked at the poster Samara and McKayla created for this project, I knew they were going to place. It was college level," SST Pre-Engineering instructor Vaso Partinoudi said. "No one has heard of 4D printing, which is also how I knew they'd place. The judges were looking for the unexpected."

The fourth dimension refers to transformation over time or through a change in conditions, with Holmes and Hartman's project focusing on taking a 3D printed object and submerging it into hot water to see if it would transform into another shape without human intervention.

The two also looked at how layering different materials on top of each other would be affected by the hot water. For example, two different types of plastic discs were tested separately, and then layered on top of each other. Each test had a different result -- the hot water in one example curled the plastic, in another it had no effect and when layered, it folded the plastic symmetrically (see below photo).

The method for altering these structures can have real-world applications in engineering: deployable housing, robotics: ocean robots and sea transportation, medical: self releasing medicines, and aerospace: transportation and storage reduction (flat packed cargo).

On March 28, NHSEE Special Awards Coordinator Robert Rotier visited SST to present the girls with their Yale award.

"Samara and McKayla, what they created is not a traditional engineering project," Rotier said. "It was innovative and creative. They're thinking non-traditionally about how to use materials."

The two first met when Partinoudi encouraged them to apply to the University of New Hampshire's Camp EPIC, where they both worked last summer as teaching assistants instructing elementary-aged kids how to code. They soon realized their shared interests, and after watching MIT's Skylar Tibbit's TED Talk on 4D printing in the Pre-Engineering class, were inspired to launch an experiment of their own.

Holmes and Hartman worked intensively for several months this year on the project, and were thrilled to be recognized at NHSEE.

"It's pretty cool because we didn't really expect that we'd win," Holmes said. "We were going up against schools that came with their whole class. This was very different and new territory for us."

"We're proud of the work we did," Hartman added. "When we learned we got the special award from Yale, we started jumping up and down."

On Saturday, March 30, both Holmes and Hartman will receive awards in the Aspirations in Computing ceremony from the National Center for Women in Technology, which will be held at the University of New Hampshire Manchester. This award encourages female students’ continued interest in computing, helps to build a support network, increases awareness of the gender gap in computing and IT, and encourages other young women to become involved with computing.

About Seacoast School of Technology:
The Seacoast School of Technology is the regional Career and Technical Center serving high school students from Epping, Exeter, Newmarket, Raymond, Sanborn Regional and Winnacunnet high schools.

SST offers selective coursework preparing students for their lives after high school – college, workforce or the military. Many of their 12 programs allow students to earn college credit and industry-recognized certifications while fulfilling their high school graduation requirements. Most importantly, students get the opportunity to explore areas of interest in a hands-on environment with state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge technology.

To find out more, visit seacoasttech.com.

Two versions of plastic disks reacted differently when hit with hot water. When the two materials were combined and then placed in hot water, the disk folded symmetrically, as seen on the far right. (Courtesy Photo SST)


Two versions of plastic disks reacted differently when hit with hot water. When the two materials were combined and then placed in hot water, the disk folded symmetrically, as seen on the far right. (Courtesy Photo SST)

Left to right: Junior Samara Holmes and sophomore McKayla Hartman presented their "Investigating the Activation Method of 4D Printed Structures" project at NHSEE this month. (Courtesy Photo SST)

Left to right: Junior Samara Holmes and sophomore McKayla Hartman presented their "Investigating the Activation Method of 4D Printed Structures" project at NHSEE this month. (Courtesy Photo SST)