A Hart Career Center Student who last month presented his engineering project at the SkillsUSA national convention and competition walked away with a special scholarship from Harbor Freight Tools.

Ryan Pemberton received the $1,400 scholarship to help cover travel expenses related to the SkillsUSA national competition held June 25-27. To receive the scholarship, he had to participate in a competitive application process. This included answering questions about how he embodies the SkillsUSA creed of believing in the dignity of work, the American way of life, education, fair play, achieving satisfaction through good work and having high moral and spiritual standards.

“We sincerely thank Harbor Freight Tools for Schools for supporting America’s future skilled workforce,” SkillsUSA’s Executive Director Tim Lawrence said in a news release. “Our students deserve this opportunity to showcase their skills and are grateful for the support they receive.”

Pemberton attended the national competition after winning gold in the statewide competition for his engineering project. Other career center students who attended the national competition were Jacy Graham, Gage Worley, Zach Quinlan, Spencer Harris, D’Lorah Spurling, Amber Bently, Heather Brady and Mackenzie Reynolds.

Pemberton developed a system to indicate when a grocery store cart return rack is full. His project used ultrasonic rangefinders in a new way.

“The ultrasonic rangefinder uses sound waves to detect how far away an object is,” Pemberton said in a presentation last month to the Mexico School District No. 59 Board of Education.

A speaker emits sound waves that bounce from the nearest object back to the receiver. A timer measures how long the sound waves took to return, which indicates its distance to the nearest object. LED lights on the cart rack then indicate to grocery store employees when a rack is either partially or completely full of carts.

Pemberton developed the sensor array after Hester Russell, the center’s Project Lead the Way engineering instructor, described her son’s job as a cart collector.