CTE student helps others get mobile

MILFORD – What started as a search for parts on Craigslist last year for an engineering class at Milford High School & Applied Technology Center has yielded a completed mobility scooter that will change lives at Crestwood Center.

Located in Milford, Crestwood Center is an 81-bed facility that offers residential long-term care, respite care, hospice care and therapy services for patients who need rehabilitation before returning home.

Milford CTE director Vaso Partinoudi said the engineering project began with the intention of a scooter going to Crestwood Center all along.

“Last year when COVID came, we had to be very creative,” she said. “This is part of the process. Our teacher, Frank Xydias and student builder Daniel Schongar, were talking about something to do and something that would contribute to society.”

Schongar, a senior, said he had a spare scooter that was good for parts but nothing else.

Over the course of nearly a year, the completed scooter will be delivered to the center sometime in May.

“I was able to 3D print many of the accessories I needed to build at home,” Schongar said. He’s has also rebuilt major systems of the scooter, which were not functional when purchased for $150.

Milford High School & Applied Technology Center is one of 28 CTE centers throughout New Hampshire.

Partinoudi said that every CTE is unique, and each CTE offers their own programming based on the local community.

“It’s teacher-driven and each teacher has a different background,” she said. “So, that effects what they teach in the program. This is no cookie-cutter program; it’s not English 101. Everything is different.”

For example, Milford High School doesn’t offer a nursing/health science program.

“Our students go to Nashua for that,” Partinoudi said. “So, we are all different but what we have in common is what we contribute to the academic life of our students. I’m an engineer and I found my calling in college. But a student like Daniel has the opportunity to find his calling in the engineering program in high school.”

Xydias noted that the pandemic exacerbated the project’s complexity.

“We could only meet once a week due to remote learning, so it was challenging,” he said. “I appreciate Daniel’s ability to stay focused on a project that took so long due to COVID.”

Aside from the challenge in working together remotely for the scooter rebuild, Xydias said much of the engineering design process remained the same.

“I still asked those higher-level questions and helped guide Daniel in how to take him from what he wanted to do with the correct process required to solve specific problems,” he said. “Engineering is all about problem-solving.”

For Schongar, the project reinforced his desire to pursue engineering in college. His project and course work at Milford High School & Applied Technology Center has also earned him college credits.

“I plan to go into engineering and study how to build robotic arms,” he said. “I learned a lot with this project I can take with me into college.”

Partinoudi said, “It’s pretty amazing to look at Daniel, who started as a 9th grader with an interest in engineering and sometimes it leads to students who become engineers. They find out if they will like it or not.”

Meanwhile, Crestwood is elated with the contribution. According to Partinoudi, they immediately communicated back and said they would very much like to receive the scooter.

“I was talking with them when they came to the school the other day and they said they have way too many plans for this,” she said. “I guess they have different needs for different residents. It’s great to see them receive it.”