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Award-winning SkillsUSA Engineering Club members, from left, seventh-graders Alexa Espinoza, Sabrina Rueda and Sarah Garcia

Fifteen students from the Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) Magnet at Olive Vista Middle School recently competed in the SkillsUSA Team Engineering Challenge at the L.A. Trade Tech College where they took the top prizes.

Of the 20 teams from five area middle schools who took part, three teams representing the Olive Vista SkillsUSA Engineering Club swept the gold, silver and bronze awards.

Sabrina Loesh, who teaches engineering at Olive Vista and sponsors the Engineering Club, helped lead the teams to victory.

“The best part of watching my engineering students win the three medals was seeing them smile with pride,” she said. “They walked out of the competition room with their heads held high and a well-earned sense of confidence. These teams have worked tirelessly every day after school to practice for the challenge, and all of the intense preparation clearly paid off.”

During the competition, students built structures from everyday materials such as spaghetti noodles, tape, string and marshmallows. The three winning teams from Olive Vista were the only students who managed to build towers that remained standing.

“All students did a fantastic job of using the design process to construct durable towers that demonstrated the principals of engineering,” said Karin Aguilar, magnet coordinator for Olive Vista. “There is nothing that can hold our Olive Vista STEAM kids down! They persevere no matter what.”

Olive Vista principal Rodney Wright echoed her enthusiasm.

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Proud award-winning Skills USA club members, from left, eighth-grader Seth Villanueva, and seventh-graders Andrew Orozco and David Jimenez.

“I am incredibly proud of the achievements of our STEAM Students at the SkillsUSA competition and of the relentless dedication of their engineering teacher, Ms. Loesh,” he said. “Our SkillsUSA organization has been a tremendous success with a thriving membership of 55 students, all eager to demonstrate their learning and compete at the highest level. The Olive Vista STEAM Magnet is creating unique learning opportunities and preparing students to compete in in the 21st century.”