OGDEN -- Neighborhood residents and students in and around Ogden High School may wonder why it sounds like a jet has been taking off over the past couple of weeks -- but it's just a little engineering being put to good use.
Students in Roger Snow's principles of engineering class are getting hands-on experience using recyclable energy by creating biodiesel fuel and then running it through a small jet engine.
Students have spent most of the term creating the fuel from vegetable oil from a local fast-food restaurant. It has been a meticulous process, taking the oil through several stages to get it ready to use in the engine.
For many, the experience has been life-changing, which is exactly why Snow wanted to have the engine.
"We talk about alternative energy all the time. This hands-on approach is more unique than looking it up on the Internet," he said.
Snow wants his students to work with something that will be used in years to come and to understand how it works.
Snow had been looking at funding sources for the project for three years when he was asked by the Ogden School Foundation if he had needs in the engineering program.
Snow was excited to pitch the plan, and a few months later, the foundation fully funded the project to the tune of about $4,800.
The results are just what Snow was hoping for.
This project aroused Braeden Caudill's interest so much, he plans to go into aerospace engineering. The 16-year-old is awed by the concepts he has learned in the last couple of months.
"We fly so many airplanes every day, it is an essential part of people's lives," Braeden said, adding he finds the concept of making more efficient, cleaner fuel fascinating.
"It's not every day you get to play with a jet engine. To think airplanes could run on used cooking oil from McDonald's is amazing."
Other students agree. They hurried to gather their hearing protectors and their white boards as Snow wheeled "the big red box" -- as the students refer to it -- to which the jet engine is attached, down to an area just inside the school's auto shop.
Snow had the students write a series of numbers on their boards so they would be able to see the different formulations of the biodiesel fuel they made and how much of each would be used in the engine.
As Snow fired up the engine, things didn't work at first, and the fuel flamed out.
"This is OK," he told the students.
That morning, there was a full-blown hail- and rainstorm, not the most desirable weather conditions. Students discovered that the kerosene, used in the fuel mixture, was bad, and they had to start over.
Once that problem was solved, things got loud as the jet engine fired up.
Snow flashed a number to the students, and they hurriedly took notes on their boards and did the math to figure out if their predictions for fuel usage were correct.
Snow figures the jet engine will be used on a number of projects in the coming years. He will have multiple uses for it when he teaches aerospace engineering, and students will be able to do experiments on individual projects.
Junior Jeremiah Robinson is working on a dragster that he plans to power with the jet engine. Snow thinks if the design is right, Jeremiah may be able to get it up to speeds of 200 miles per hour.
"This biodiesel work is really fascinating," Jeremiah said as he worked on his dragster design at his desk.
Foundation President George Hall came to watch the jet engine launch and was impressed with what he saw.
"This is an opportunity for students to work in the field while they are still in school," he said.
"This is leading-edge technology and deals with issues facing our country, and our students are in on that."