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NFA Students Solve Real-World Problem Through Classroom Project


When Mr. Matthew Schweizer’s class was presented with a problem, they brainstormed ideas to solve the problem and create a more efficient and effective solution.

The problem: Speedometers meant to calm traffic and promote vehicle and pedestrian safety needed to be plugged in to recharge every 12 hours.

The solution: Retrofit the current model with solar panels, so there is minimal to no disruption in service.

Scholar’s in Mr. Schweizer’s Architecture, Engineering, and Design class received a $1,000 grant from the Awesome Newburgh Foundation to retrofit speed signs with solar panels. After their hard work, the signs are self-sufficient without the need for a plug or recharging station. Scholars were excited to work on a project with real-world applications that they would literally walk or drive by every day. This class also worked with the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program’s welding, electronics, and construction classes to finalize their project.  

Some notable features of this project that students designed, built, and installed are the solar panel mount, the solar panel angle brace, battery support, and the 3D printed post cap. It has been a collaborative effort from students in the Engineering and Architecture classes, along with Welding 2 students who custom built all components out of aluminum and steel. All custom-built parts were first sketched out, technically drawn using drafting tools, 3D modeled using Autodesk Inventor, and finally either 3D printed or built by hand. This hands-on and interactive experience helped students develop real world skills that will lay their foundation as future fabricators and engineers.

The speedometer was purchased by the Orange County Department of Planning through the Creating Healthy Schools and Communities Program with the goal of increasing safety for bicyclists and pedestrians in the City of Newburgh. This initiative expands beyond Newburgh Free Academy and into the local community through the City of Newburgh Department of Public Works (DPW) with other devices.

“Mr. Schweizer constantly helps students connect their coursework to future career possibilities, building valuable skills and thought processes throughout each class that he teaches. This approach excites and encourages our students to understand the tangible impact of what they’re learning in class each and every day. To be able to see the product of their hard work every day at school, further emphasizes their hard work toward completing a goal project.” Mr. John Etri, Director of Career and Technical Education (CTE).

Architecture, Engineering, and Design is one of more than 20 pathways that students have access to right in Newburgh Free Academy's Career and Technical Education program. 

Photos from the project can be viewed and downloaded here. Photos were taken throughout the process. Photos of the technical elements provided by Mr. Matthew Schweizer.


ATTENTION: Are your scholars or colleagues doing something great? Please contact the district Communications Team at communications@necsd.net. We’d love to visit your class or event and/or post your pictures and recap to highlight the amazing accomplishments throughout our district!







Date: 2022-08-02 08:15:24 AM





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