Underwater robots and roller coasters recently challenged 10 Fort Hays State University students at the 76th International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) National Conference and the Technology and Engineering Education Collegiate Association (TEECA) competitions in Orlando, Fla.
"The FHSU/TEECA Organization had a great showing at this year’s national conference in Orlando. We placed in three of the four contests in which we competed in and compiled three runner up finishes," said Eric Denault, assistant professor of applied technology.
The FHSU teams competed in the Transportation, Problem Solving, Manufacturing and Technology competitions.
In total, 16 universities were represented at the conference.
The Transportation Competition required students to conceptualize and design a transportation device for optimal efficiency. This year's event simulated a burst offshore oil rig leaking oil into the ocean. To save the ocean and the environment, a cap must be placed on the well as quickly as possible.
Participants developed a scale-model prototype submarine using an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and then maneuvered it through the water to place a cap on a PVC pipe about 20 feet away in a pool, while dodging "debris" from the oil explosion.
Evaluation is based on team performance, safety, craftsmanship of design, documentation of design efforts and the quality of the product. The competition also includes an oral multimedia presentation and review by industry professionals.
Jill Parker, a teacher at Elizabeth Middle School, Colo., was at the ITEEA conference to receive the Teacher Excellence Award for Colorado. After watching the FHSU team compete, she wrote in a letter to President Edward H. Hammond, "Most of the robots were predictable in their design, but the Fort Hays students had a design like no other. Their design with the electromagnet and their teamwork was incredible to watch and successful above all others."
While other teams simply hooked the cap from the robot, the FHSU team wired electromagnets to attach the cap to the front of the ROV. Then they programmed a command button on the remote that would release the cap directly onto the PVC pipe. Using electromagnets to control the dropping of the cap allowed for better control and precision, resulting in consistent success regardless of where the pipe was placed within the pool. The team also wired LED lights on the front and back of the submarine to help combat the water deflection angle.
The team placed second overall.
The Problem Solving Competition allowed students to showcase their design, problem solving and creativity skills. The problem to solve was announced onsite and students were given 24 hours to complete it. This year's competition was a technology and engineering design challenge that required students to design a realistic roller coaster grounded in scientific and mathematical concepts. Students were judged on both documentation and performance. The FHSU team placed second.
In the Manufacturing Competition, students designed, documented and implemented a continuous manufacturing system. The final product produced is then used as a recruitment tool for technology education teachers. Participants were judged according to their pre-production process, documentation and the quality of the completed project. The competition also involved a multi-media presentation.
The team placed second overall, narrowly missing first place after winning the regional competition.
The Technology Competition was in the form of a quiz bowl, featuring a double-elimination process. Questions were announced on-site. This competition gives students an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge about core technology concepts.
Parker wrote that the FHSU teams were "an inspiration to others."
TEECA is a pre-professional organization for college students interested in applied technology. The Orlando conference offered seven different competitions, each with an industry sponsor offering a $10,000 scholarship award to the winning team. Competitions include a variety of applied technology subjects, ranging from manufacturing to robotics. The competitions allow students to increase their experience, skills and knowledge.
"I am very proud of our organization's accomplishments this year as the Institute of Applied Technology students represented FHSU very well," said Denault.