ALEXANDRIA, VA-Tackling one of the world's most pressing problems-the global water shortage-from an engineering perspective, students from The Taft School in Watertown, CT, took the top national honor for the 11/12th grade level, while those from the Harker School in San Jose, CA, were named the national 9/10 grade winners in the 31st annual national TEAMS competition sponsored by JETS.

The 2010 winners competed against more than 10,000 ninth- through 12-grade students from 42 states across the country.

While this year's competition theme, "Water, Water, Everywhere," was selected last year, its relevance was highlighted earlier this year as the students watched earthquake victims in Haiti struggle to find clean water, a problem which affects nearly one billion people, according to the World Health Organization.

As the highest ranking teams in the country, both the Taft and Harker School students receive for their school $2,500 and a trophy, plus medals and individual certificates of excellence. As the top 11/12th grade team, the Walt Disney World Resort also has awarded The Taft School team a three-night stay at Walt Disney World, including Park Hopper Tickets, and the opportunity to take part in one Disney Youth Education Series program of their choice.

"Congratulations to all of our winning teams this year and a special thanks to the more than 100 colleges, universities, schools and corporations that graciously served as our competition host sites," said Linda Snow-Solum, senior director, Rockwell Collins and president of the board of directors, JETS. "With this year's TEAMS competition, the participating students gained a unique understanding of the humanitarian aspects of engineering and how different types of engineers from the various disciplines are working to solve some of society's most critical problems. Nothing is arguably more important to life than access to clean water."

In solving specific real-life water problems, TEAMS students were challenged to:

  • assess the effectiveness of ceramic pot filters developed by geological, environmental and ceramic engineers in disinfecting water;
  • analyze and create processes, known as desalination, that remove salt and other impurities from otherwise undrinkable water sources;
  • produce Ultrapure Water (UPW) which is essential for industries, such as manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and electric power generation;
  • design technologies that deal with the detrimental effects that land development projects have on communities' watersheds

    In addition to the two first-place or "Best Overall" teams, JETS named second- and third-place national winners including:

    Second-Place National Winners:
    Hopkins School, New Haven, Conn., 11/12 grade level
    Saratoga High School, Saratoga, Calif., 9/10 grade level

    Third-Place National Winners:
    Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics, Oklahoma City, 11/12 grade level
    New Canaan High School, New Canaan, CT, 9/10 grade level (tie)
    East Brunswick High School, East Brunswick, NJ, 9/10 grade level (tie)

    JETS is the leading non-profit educational organization dedicated to promoting engineering and technology careers to America's youth. From coordinating exciting student competitions to providing top academic resources and career exploration materials, JETS is helping students make informed decisions about their futures and developing a new generation of engineers.

    Like the other signature JETS programs, the purpose of TEAMS is to encourage more American students to pursue engineering by showing them just how engineering impacts everyday life and how engineers help solve social and community problems - from building roads and bridges, to developing water purification systems for developing countries, to inventing alternative sources of energy to fuel our cars and keep our homes warm and cool.

    Each year, JETS programs touch more than 40,000 students and 10,000 educators from 6,000 high schools across the country. JETS participants are a diverse group - more than 50 percent are from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in engineering and technology fields, including one-third who are female.