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The Piedmont Highlander

The Piedmont Highlander

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February 15, 2024

Vaughn Khouri Designs A Brighter Future

 Vaughn Khouri is a man of many titles: vice captain of the robotics team, summer student ETC for Apple, founder of a non-profit, UN speaker, and PHS junior. 

  Although it’s the offseason, Khouri said he spends around 40 hours a week on robotics, equating it to a full time job. He said that it doesn’t need to take up that much time, but dealing with a $100,000 budget and trying to make it to the World’s competition comes with lots of expectations.

  “Vaughn has a very strong background throughout elementary, middle, and high school in terms of robotics. Because of that, there’s high expectations for everyone on the team, and that’s a big part of why we did so well,” said fabrications lead and senior Peter Stokes. 

  Stokes said that as vice captain, Khouri is not only incharge of a large portion of the robot, but he also makes sure each subgroup coordinates and delivers news from the mentors. 

  For Khouri, robotics is not about finishing a project, but the journey of problem solving. 

  “The joy that I get out of robotics is really not about spending hours and hours on the design work and the math,” Khouri said, “The joy is really when you actually put it together and you see your work and you say, ‘Ok, this is how I’m going to change this and try to make this work better.’ ”

  Khouri’s passion for engineering coupled with his work ethic has allowed him to receive unique opportunities such as being selected to be one of 15 high schoolers invited to attend Apple’s Engineering Technology Camp this past summer. Due to non-disclosure agreements, Khouri said he is unable to say much about what he did at Apple. He said lived in Cupertino for five weeks and went to Apple Park everyday from eight to five.

  “It’s more of a job than a camp, but they paid me in a ton of Apple [products],” Khouri said. 

  Going into the camp, Khouri said his looming question was what being an engineer in the workplace is actually like. He wanted to know if this was something he could see himself doing for the rest of his life. Luckily, it was. 

  “I would say that it was probably the most personally fulfilling five weeks of my life, probably ever,” Khouri said. 

Additionally, Khouri is the founder of non-profit Encouraging Engineering. Its mission is to “to create, coordinate, and test content for low-cost, sustainable, and scalable engineering workshops,” according to his UN presentation. 

  Thanks to a connection from the internship, Khouri was invited to present his non-profit at the UN general address on Sept. 22. As one of nine speakers speaking on sustainable models for accessible STEM education and opportunities with a focus on marginalized groups, Khouri said he hopes to expand his platform using the UN’s publicity and make an impact beyond the Bay Area. 

  In order to prepare for the event, Khouri presented his slides to his 6th period English class. Junior Dahlia Saffouri was one of the class members who got to listen to the presentation. 

  “He was super passionate about what he was talking about and I felt really informed after listening,” Saffouri said.

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About the Contributors
Kate Meyjes, Arts Editor
Kate Meyjes (11) is the arts editor at TPH. Along with writing for TPH she is on the varsity water polo and swim team, is an avid reader, and loves to hang out with her friends on the weekends.
Sophie Hess, Photos Editor
Sophie Hess (11) is the Photographer for TPH. Apart from journalism, she enjoys cooking, gardening, and traveling with her family.
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