Vincent Kent and Harrison Lara knew they were on to something.

People fly flags off the backs of their pickups, but every set-up they saw was improvised and perhaps not too stable. There had to be a better way.

“I thought of it whenever I was trying to fly a flag on my own truck,” said Vincent. Both are seniors at William Chrisman High School in Independence. They came up with a manufacturable item that they hope to patent and sell online.

“It was simple, and that’s a key factor to it,” said Harrison.

Both are headed to UMKC in the fall, Vincent in mechanical engineering and Harrison in information technology. But this week they were among dozens of high school seniors, many of them from Eastern Jackson County, at the Project Lead The Way Senior Showcase held at Union Station.

Fifty-four teams were entered in the Innovator Awards competition, one of three contests. In the innovator awards, the judges named five top entrants. Harrison and Vincent were one, as were Kaitlin Hoff of Blue Springs South High School for a slow-release growth hormone implant and Corey Jackson and Nell Sandring Wesemann, also at Blue Springs South, for “hexa-waders.”

Eastern Jackson County teams also took first and second – and six of the top 10 – among the 55 teams in the Kansas City Engineering Design Competition.

Cailyn Crowley, a senior at Truman High School in Independence, plans to double major in electrical engineering and computer engineering at Missouri Science & Technology University in Rolla. She and her partner, Joshua Kalig – UMKC, civil engineering – took first place. That comes with a $2,500 scholarship.

Cailyn said the idea came from the simplest of things, watching her mom do the laundry. Garments with wide necklines tend to fall off hangers too easily. Joshua said his brother is a big guy, and his clothes do the same thing.

Solution? “What we did was create a retractable hanger …” Cailyn said. It’s fashioned out of plastic and turned out on the school’s 3D printer. They also plan to have it patented,

So can they actually sell these?

“We’ve had offers,” Joshua said.

The Union Station event was good, they said.

“When they told us we were in the top 10, we were shocked at that,” Cailyn said.

A team from Blue Springs South High School, Alex Burroughs and Ibrahim Yilla, took second place for a sink shield. That also comes with a $2,500 scholarship.

Four other Eastern Jackson County team finished in the top 10 in the engineering design contest:

Steven Lee and Trevor Coen of Blue Springs High School for a pain-relieving pack.

Garrett Ewens of Grain Valley and Sarah Wolff of Lee’s Summit North High School were a team from Summit Technology Academy that created a belt.

Cassidy Herrman and Nick Mann of Blue Springs High School.

Liam Bagwell and Lillian Kerber of Blue Spring High School for a laptop mouse pad.

Fort Osage High School also had a dozen entries, with projects ranging from a pet-washing brush to the evolution of cardiology. The district was honored for 10 years of participation in Project Lead The Way.

There also were 47 teams in the biomedical sciences competition. The winner was a student at Lee’s Summit North High School, Allison Renner, for a project on mouse bone density.