Problem-solving no difficulty for S.A.M.E.

By Maddie Robertson ’18

In its third year of re-emergence, the Society of American Military Engineers (S.A.M.E.) is working to solve problems big and small.


S.A.M.E. 2018 Emily Nguyen ’20, Kelly Williams ’20, Tayla McWilliams ’20, Zoe Zier ’19, Cassie Palmer ’18, Amirtha Arun ’19, Audrey Laney ’19, Alexis Jordan ’19, DaKara Cooper ’18. Not pictured: Eleanor Ricketts ’19 and Emilee Braun ’18. 

The club, composed of 11 sophomores, juniors and seniors, focuses on finding solutions to issues affecting communities of all shapes and sizes using their STEM and architecture skills. Science teacher Mr. Matthew Winterboer, who has moderated the club for the last three years, described the brainstorming process for their annual S.A.M.E. competition at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

“It was a challenge of identifying a problem locally, nationally or something even broader.  This competition is very open ended.     

      Teams are responsible for coming up with their own problem that needs a solution,” Winterboer said. 

      After seeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, the group decided to focus on a way to combat the aftermath of a natural disaster. After months of planning, S.A.M.E. created a school that could be used as a relief center before a hurricane or other natural disaster is set to strike. 

      Junior Amirtha Arun, who has been a part of the team for the past two years, worked on the health section of the project.

“When a natural disaster happens, people don’t always get access to antibiotics. Alexis Jordan and I worked on the storage of antibiotics,” Arun said.

      Along with the health section, other team members worked on areas such as water, architecture, power, communication and research. 

      “Our team came together really well. It’s definitely a group effort. We all divide the roles pretty evenly. We each have our own subject matter of expertise,” Arun said.

The competition, which was held April 16 at UNO’s Scott Conference Center, was filled with a day of observing other teams, preparing for their presentation and discussing with four engineers and architects the ins and outs of their project. 

     After a rigorous day of competition, the group won a Top-5 Award of Distinction and a $500 prize.    They won Gold Level Honors in Applied Science, Innovation, Research, Teamwork, Technology, Proposal and Presentation. The only category they earned Silver Level Honor in was Sustainability.

     “While it would have been nice to get first place, I’m happy with the way things turned out. We worked hard,” senior DaKara Cooper said. 

     The club’s mentor, Metropolitan Community College Architecture Professor and Marian graduate Stephanie Peterson ‘01, was also part of S.A.M.E. in high school. 

     “Watching students rise to this challenge and push themselves out of their comfort zones to learn and produce a project worth talking about (worth building!) is the main reason I keep involved. It’s my favorite part,” Peterson said. 

webSAME presenttion

webSAME Practice Judges
The S.A.M.E. team practices their presentation of their project in front of a team of staff and administrators on April 14. 

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The Network is the student newspaper of Marian High School, Nebraska's only Class A College-Preparatory School for young women.

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