September 17, 2008
Senators McCain and Obama might momentarily suspend their energy-policy and economic-policy bickering and pay a visit to Michigan Technical Academy, where students have converted used cooking oil from a nearby tortilla factory into biodiesel. The school's automotive technology teacher, Marty Depowski, is a master certified automotive technician who once worked for Ford. Now, he teaches students how to use their technical savvy to solve technical problems. For instance, pupils are currently devising a way to keep the biodiesel warm; two of the district's buses run on the stuff, and when the Michigan winter sets in and the temperature drops, the fuel will congeal. But nobody seems to be worried. The school's superintendent, Jeremy Gilliam, said, "We have a lot of students good at solving puzzles, diagnosing problems, coming up with creative solutions, working with their hands, and taking things apart to find out how to make them work better." And if they can't figure out how to keep the biodiesel fuel warm? Well, walking is good for the environment, too.
"Students' energy drives buses," by Karen Bouffard, Detroit News, September 15, 2008