Continuing a tradition of excellence and ending a three-year run of playing bridesmaid were prime goals of Fort Hays State University's Live Manufacturing Team at this year's national competition.
Mission accomplished. The team of Kris Munsch, Ness City senior, Keith Aubert, St. Mary's senior, Matt Dunning, Stockton senior, Tommy Perez, Lakin junior, and Jeremy LeDuc, Assaria senior, took first in the live manufacturing competition, sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers at the annual conference and competitions of the International Technology Education Association.
FHSU came home from Nashville, TN, site of this year's Technology Education Collegiate Association national competitions, with another national championship, the Live Communication Team of Kenny Rigler, Callaway, NE, senior, and Perez, and a third-place finish by the Problem Solving Team of Tim Rector, Johnson senior, and Chad Look, Stockton sophomore.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, introduced the winners at a news conference today in the Field Conference Room of Sheridan Hall on the university campus.
"These outstanding students and their sponsors are another example of the 'success' part of Fort Hays State University's winning formula of 'affordable success,' " said Hammond. "Our technology education students year after year are among the elite of virtually the entire technology education component of U.S. colleges and universities, and this year we are proud to present two national champions, our Live Manufacturing and Live Communication teams."
"I am very pleased with our students," said Dr. Duane Renfrow, associate professor of technology studies and, with Kim Stewart, assistant professor of technology studies, and Dr. Robert Howell, assistant professor, a co-sponsor of TECA at FHSU. All three accompanied the team to Nashville.
"They have proven that they can compete successfully with any school in the nation in the area of technology education," said Renfrow. "These students were focused and intent on being successful this year and they were. My hat's off to them on their professionalism and success."
"I believe the accomplishments of our TECA students at these contests are indicative of the quality of the technology program they are involved in on a daily basis," said Stewart. "The combination of eager students, quality faculty and steadfast leadership makes an unbeatable team. Our students perform well year after year because of the total involvement of our technology studies program at Fort Hays State University."
Renfrow noted that FHSU's technology education teams have performed consistently over the last 17 years at the national TECA competition, adding, "And this year's Live Manufacturing team was eager to end a three-year string of being runner-up to California University of Pennsylvania."
The national competition in this category, unlike the others, said Renfrow, is limited to winners of the four regional competitions. That fact, plus the nature of the category, which brings into play all the different areas of technology in manufacturing, "makes it the capstone of the national TECA competitions."
"This is a very professional bunch of young people," said Renfrow.
Renfrow said the primary focus of the Live Manufacturing competition is the process. All four of the regional champions are given a product to manufacture, in this case a model airplane, and each team then has four hours to come up with all the steps involved in creating a manufacturing system for the product and to actually produce five copies of the product.
"Our guys," said Renfrow, "finished their sixth a few seconds after the first of the other teams produced their fifth."
This competition requires that the teams produce a flow process chart for each part of the product, an operations process chart to show how the product will be assembled, dimension tooling plans, actual jigs and fixtures to make each part, dimension inspection gauge plans and the gauges, a plant layout drawing and a safety system.
To win, said Stewart, the team had four hours in which to construct the most efficient assembly line and manufacture five toy airplanes. The teams were judged on the process the students developed to manufacture the planes, the layout of the manufacturing plant, the design of the jigs and fixtures the team made and used, how efficient the process was, the quality of each product, the flow process charts for the project, and the time it takes to make the products.
"I learned a lot of teamwork from the manufacturing competition," said Perez, the Lakin junior who was on both the Live Manufacturing Team and the Live Communication Team.
"In the group, we had five people. That's a lot of people with a lot of different ideas," said Perez. "So we had to learn how to communicate with each other and express our ideas in the four hours that we had to complete the project. That was very difficult, but very rewarding in the end. Teamwork is such a big part of the competition."
For the communication competition, Perez and partner Rigler had to produce a 30-second video commercial about music in Nashville.
"They were head and shoulders above their competition," said Renfrow.
Renfrow also praised the Technology Challenge and the Transportation teams, which he said competed well even though they did not place. Technology Challenge was Munsch, Rigler, Dunning and Aubert. Transportation was Rector and Look.
TECA is the collegiate arm of the International Technology Education Association. It includes almost every college and university in the nation that offers technology education, including such schools as Colorado State, Purdue, Virginia Tech, Virginia State, North Carolina State, Clemson, Indiana State, Ohio State, the University of Georgia and Brigham Young University.
A bonus of this year's trip was that ITEA presented its William J. Wilkinson Meritorious Service Award for 2003 to Dr. Fred Ruda, chair of the Department of Technology Studies at FHSU. Only one Wilkinson Award is given each year.