All the nuts and bolts; Seniors West, Clark speeding into engineering majors

By Gabby Sahm

Staff Writer

@gabbysahm

Seniors Andrea Clark and Olivia West add the finishing nuts and bolts to the solar powered car that the STEM team built. This was Andrea’s second year on the Solar Car team and Olivia’s fourth year. Photo by Aubrie Sisk.
Seniors Andrea Clark and Olivia West add the finishing nuts and bolts to the solar powered car that the STEM team built. This was Andrea’s second year on the Solar Car team and Olivia’s fourth year. Photo by Aubrie Sisk.

For six years now, the Science, Technology, Engineering (STEM) Academy has been offered at Coppell High School. With the academy consisting mostly of males, along with the engineering field, it can be hard for females to make their mark.

That, however, has not stopped the two graduating STEM officers, seniors and STEM president Olivia West and STEM secretary Andrea Clark, from leaving behind great legacies for their predecessors.

STEM coordinator Mike Yakubovsky understands the struggles that both West and Clark can face and gave his advice for both as they are set to move into engineering majors at college in the fall.

“It is tough going into engineering as a female,” Yakubovsky said. “Do not give up, keep at it and keep doing what you are doing.”

Rewind sometime to the start of it all. West decided to join STEM at the beginning of her freshman year. She comes from a family of engineers, so you can say that engineering was in her blood.

“I have always been really interested with engineering,” West said. “I decided STEM would be the best opportunity for me to get some hands-on experience to determine if this is what I wanted to do.”

However, things started off very different for Clark. She moved from California to Coppell at the start of her junior year. Not knowing where to turn, she decided to give STEM a try, and discovered it was the right fit.

“It was a really great decision because I did not know what I was getting into,” Clark said. “Then, when I came to class on the first day of school, I discovered it was mostly guys. I was a little put off at first but it still ended up being fun.”

She decided to join the Solar Car team during her junior year as well, and is now the marketing lead for the team. She was apprehensive at first, but that all changed after the first race.

“We had so many whacky memories while going to the race,” Clark said. “From being delirious in the heat, dancing and singing and just going to the competition and having that sense of community was really fun.”

West is also apart of the solar car team and it has been one of her favorite part about STEM.

“The solar car race is probably my favorite memory [from STEM] because the car was not working and then we got it completely up and running. It was just incredible,” West said.

STEM has been a real eye opener for both West and Clark. It has introduced both to different fields of study, and has given them hands on experience for what the real world of engineering will be like.

“One of the best things I have learned in STEM is the exposure to all the different things within the engineering world,” Clark said. “I did not know anything about programing, and I have been able to learn a lot about it, which is super important.”

Through the year, West and Clark have left their marks on many STEM students and Yakubovsky. Their personalities have been fun, and have helped make class and after school activities more enjoyable.

“They both have happy and uplifting personalities,” Yakubovsky said. “They make things fun even when we are going through tough stuff.”

As West heads to the Colorado School of Mines to major in chemical engineering and Clark heads to Southern Methodist University to major in mechanical engineering, they have had time to reflect on the lessons they have learned through STEM. They are looking forward to using the skills and tools they have learned in college to help get a leg up in classes and competitions.

“It’s great to have an edge on a lot of the components of engineering which are not really introduced at such a young age for most high schoolers,” Clark said.

Both West and Clark have come to love the community feel that STEM offers. They say no one will judge for any ideas you have on projects or inventions and everyone is accepted with open arms.

“It is a beautiful thing to be able to come to school and feel comfortable in your classes, because often times your classes are boring,” Clark said. “STEM is such a relaxing class because we get to do what we love everyday.”

The last pieces of advice that West gave was to next year’s STEM president junior Nino Teruya, and how he should handle his new position of power.

“Take it one step at a time, because it can be a little daunting,” West said. “Just get to know as many people as you can. Being president is not really about the workload, it is about getting to know the people and really helping them out.”

Clark also has some advice for next year’s STEM secretary junior Ryan Kinder.

“Have fun,” Clark said. “Enjoy your senior year and really try to cultivate good relationships with your classmates.”

In all, both seniors will be greatly missed by the STEM community. Though they will be gone, neither will forget the times they have had during their years at STEM.

“It has just been so amazing to lead everybody and to give back to a community which is so good at giving you a place to call home at school and a place to come a learn without being judged,” Clark said.