Power of Public: Inspiring every child to be a problem-solver

Williams Santos, a student at Energy Institute High School, has come up with an innovative way to work around power outages.

Editor’s Note: February 27 through March 3 is Texas Public Schools Week, and we are celebrating by sharing personal stories throughout HISD on how public education is helping students succeed. Tweet at us @HoustonISD and share how public education is positive force for you or your student, using the hashtag #PowerofPublic.

William Santos will graduate with the first class of Energy Institute High this spring, and he may do so with the prototype for a product that could one day be in your home.

His engineering teacher challenged the class to tackle an unsolved problem in the world, and William thought about how power outages affect homes and businesses in Houston. By using magnets and a turbine to harness the kinetic energy generated by air passing through every building’s air-conditioning unit, he thought, he could store energy for later use.

It’s the type of project that makes Energy Institute at the forefront of innovative teaching, and it’s why students like William chose the school.

“They are very intuitive projects, not basic reports, but more hands-on. You have to use your creativity,” said William. “They make you think as well about how much you can really put into the project aside from just doing some baseline work. How much further can you go?”

It’s the same kind of thinking instilled in him by his biggest influence in life, his father, who values problem-solving and made sure William and his siblings knew how to fix a car if it breaks down.

“He’s very hardworking,” said William. “He is strict on what work you do, how it’s done. He doesn’t take any slacking.”

William wants to pursue mechanical engineering at University of Houston, Texas State University, or University of Texas at Austin.

“Mechanical engineering goes beyond what simple things people would make, to what people want to solve in the real world.”

Like dealing with power outages.

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