FHSU students win top honors at international technology, engineering conference

TEECA

04/16/15
Sixteen students from the Institute of Applied Technology at Fort Hays State University earned top honors at the recent International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) 77th Annual Conference held in Milwaukee, Wis.

The students placed second in the live manufacturing and live robotics competitions coordinated by the Technology and Engineering Education Collegiate Association (TEECA) in conjunction with the conference.

In total, 15 universities were represented at the conference. The FHSU teams competed in the Live Manufacturing, Live Robotics, Live Commutations, Educational Display, Technology Challenge, Transportation and Problem Solving competitions.

"The FHSU/TEECA Organization had a great showing at this year's national conference in Milwaukee. The TEECA students placed in several contests, including two national runner-up finishes," said Eric Deneault (pronounced d'KNOW), assistant professor of applied technology.

In the manufacturing competition, students designed, documented and implemented a continuous manufacturing system. Participants were judged according to their pre-production process, documentation and the overall quality of the final project.

"The live manufacturing team designed a production run and manufactured a reciprocating departmental promotional mechanism," said Kim Stewart, executive director of the Institute of Applied Technology.

Parts for the mechanism were designed, anodized, 3D printed and laser cut on the FHSU campus prior to the conference. The production was completed "live" in Milwaukee. Deneault said FHSU's mechanism was "by far the best product there."

The final product was a type of fast-return actuator -- a center dial spins and moves the lever. Stewart called the FHSU product a "show stopper."

"Our team had an opportunity to interact with conference attendees and explain their processes and product. It was very rewarding seeing our students command the attention of the room in such a professional way," said Stewart.

In the robotics competition, teams of students are tasked with designing and building a robot using parts from VEX Robotics Inc., Greenville, Texas. The students are given the challenge three to six months in advance. In that time, they use VEX parts to engineer their robot, which is designed to be driven two ways, autonomously and user-controlled.

This year's challenge required students to build a robot capable of stacking yellow pegs on top of one another and then stacking blue cubes over the pegs. Students were free to design the robot however they wanted, but the robot was restricted to a starting size 18-inch cube that could grow to any size through the duration of the competition.

The final score was based on the robot itself and the project documentation.

"The robotics team was comprised of first-year freshmen who exceeded all my expectations for this competition," said Deneault. "They will be a force to be reckoned with next year in this competition."

Robotics equipment for the FHSU team was made available with an equipment fund grant from the Student Government Association.

TEECA is a pre-professional organization for college students interested in applied technology. The Milwaukee conference offered seven different competitions, each with an industry sponsor offering a $750 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, skill sets, and expand on networking opportunities.

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