Search engines pervade the digital world, mediating most access to information instantaneously. We have found that students can build search engine components, and even entire search engines, in the context of problem-based learning in introductory and intermediate computer science courses. The courses cover a broad range of topics in algorithms, data structures, and web design, with a heavy emphasis on programming. Additionally, the internet is coupled with the syllabus at many places, from web design and HTML to graph algorithms and pattern matching. This connection enlivens the discussion of otherwise dry topics like searching, sorting, indexing and hashing. Moreover, the challenge of web-scale computing motivates the continuing students in their later study of formal topics like algorithmic complexity, while non-continuing students acquire transferable analytical skills. We report on the experience in search engine projects for driving problem-based learning in computer science courses, for both high school and university students. Our experience shows that such projects are effective in both introductory and intermediate courses, and readily encompass student groups with diverse programming abilities.