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  • Courtesy Bishop Luers student Jessica Hartmus has developed a way to build a drying rack for bricks without using electric tools. Her work was honored at the Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair in Indianapolis.

  • Beckett

  • Courtesy Bishop Luers students Camille King and Mitchell Gigli won the Philip G. Bail Sr. and Katherine D. Bail Ambassadors Scholarship.

Monday, June 19, 2017 1:00 am

Teen's work makes mark in Uganda

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

The problem 14-year-old Jessica Hartmus faced was complex.

The Roanoke teen sought to design a drying rack for bricks that could be built without electric tools and that considered the likely skills of those who would be assembling the wooden structures.

This wasn't a hypothetical class assignment but a task presented to her by Sebastian Twinomugabi, a Ugandan priest she met during his time at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Huntington. She intended to improve the labor-intensive system he used in Uganda that only allowed laborers to work four days a week because of limited storage.

In the last two years, Hartmus designed a system that increases productivity to six days a week and requires such little labor that even teens or women can do it, she said.

The solution did not come easily, the Bishop Luers High School student said. The process included trial and error, prototyping, testing and, she said, finding materials.

“I think I spent maybe 200 hours on this project already, maybe more,” she said.

Her motivation to keep going came from an understandable source.

“I had deadlines,” Hartmus said.

She used the project for her Girl Scouts Silver and Gold awards, she said, and she entered her work in science fairs because prize money could support her efforts.

In March, she placed first in the high school division at the Northeast Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair at IPFW and advanced to the Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair in Indianapolis. There, she received the University of Notre Dame College of Engineering Award for Excellence in Engineering.

Jessica likes that she can help others through her love of engineering, she said.

Her mother, Julie Hartmus, said Twinomugabi – who has returned to Uganda – wants Jessica to visit his community.

“He wants to take her around to different villages and schools in his region to meet with girls and young women to try to encourage them to be more and expect more and to hope for more,” Julie Hartmus said.

She provided an email from Twinomugabi that described how much her daughter is already helping the East African country.

“Female students are more determined to learn new and practical skills due to the inspiring example of Jessica,” the priest wrote. “The traditional mind set about technical and scientific studies and work is changing.”


• Bishop Luers High School announced Mitchell Gigli and Camille King are the 2017-18 recipients of the Philip G. Bail Sr. and Katherine D. Bail Ambassadors Scholarship for their senior year at Luers.

• Northrop High School senior Cecelia Frankewich received the Dr. Patty Martone Hamilton Sisters Scholarship, which recognizes a young woman enrolled in a Fort Wayne Community Schools high school and embodies academic excellence and community involvement.


• Bishop Luers High School senior Reyna Rodriguez was U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' guest May 22 at the American Federation for Children's National Policy Summit in Indianapolis. She was selected by the Indiana Institute for Quality Education after presenting a speech on school choice at a Fort Wayne rally in January. Rodriguez sat next to DeVos at the dinner, and the secretary spotlighted her and her parents' educational journey in the conference speech.

• The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy has selected Robert D. Beckett of Manchester University as a 2017 Emerging Teaching Scholar Award winner. Beckett, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the Fort Wayne campus, is one of four pharmacy educators nationwide to be selected for the honor, which is presented by the AACP Council of Faculties.

Zach McIntyre of Fort Wayne was among the Best in Show Award winners at Huntington University's third annual Forester Film Festival.

• Benjamin Hunley of Fort Wayne was initiated into Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest and most selective all-discipline collegiate honor society. Membership is by invitation only. Only the top 10 percent of seniors and 7.5 percent of juniors are eligible for membership. He was initiated at IPFW.

Tristan Hamblin, a St. Paul's Lutheran School student, won the Association of Indiana Counties essay contest. The theme was “Counties Moving Indiana Forward: Roads and Bridges are essential.” Essays were judged on how well students communicated the county's role in building and maintaining infrastructure such as roads, bridges and drainage projects. One winner was chosen in each of the AIC's six districts.

• The state recognized 114 high schools that had at least 60 percent of their 2017 seniors file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid on time. East Allen University, Woodlan Junior-Senior High School and Bishop Dwenger, Carroll, New Haven and South Adams high schools were among the recipients. Overall, 51 percent of Indiana high school seniors filed the FAFSA on time, up 9 percentage points from 2016.

• The fourth annual Kris Thiele Memorial Professional Learning Stipend recipients are Megan Cripe, a Carroll Middle School dean, and Sarah Hamlin, a Carroll High School English teacher. The stipend is named after a Maple Creek Middle School teacher who continued to focus on her students' needs while battling cancer. She died in 2014. Northwest Allen County Schools established the stipend in partnership with Parkview Health.

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