Taft High School students dive into technology challenge at Kern County Raceway

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - It was a hands on learning experience outside of the classroom meant to better the future for all.  

"This is the next generation of problem solvers and decision makers and it's important to give them the tools now so they can continue to develop it in the future," said Jim Pettigrew, Director of Operations for the Ocean Energy Safety Institute.

Taft Union High School Oil Academy students were tasked with thinking outside of the box as they competed against one another in STEM focused activities on Wednesday.

"We try to keep local talent local and so we are trying to inspire our students to go into STEM programs," said Kristen Tejeda, Special Projects Manager, Kern County Raceway Park. 

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, along with the Ocean Energy Safety Institute, came to the Kern County Racepark for the first time ever to give students a hands-on experience building circuits, discovering battery efficiency and more. 

"When they do something hands on, they learn it.  They live it, they learn it," said Ramanam Krishnamoorit, Chief Energy Officer Universtiy of Houston.

"It's definitely a lot easier to learn when doing things hands-on because sometimes schools like to get caught up on the text books and teaching you all the theory but it's not until you put the circuit together and see how the current is flowing through it and measure it, that you really understand what you're actually doing and starting and how you can use that in the future," said Daniel Loza, a Taft College student. 

NASA research engineer Ricardo Artega is currently experimenting with drone technology to improve the oil and gas industry. 

He shared his current project with the students and left them with one message. 

"We are all inventors, pioneers and explorers, so create," said Ricardo Arteaga, NASA Research Engineer. 

The technology challenge continues Wednesday. 

Students who excelled in the challenge will receive up to $2,500 to put towards continuing their education. 

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