Student Competitions: Empowering students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in a global marketplace

High-tech competitions took center-stage this spring as FLATE helped several middle and high school students participate in statewide competitions. The competitions represent FLATE’s efforts to evoke students’ interest in STEM education, and are geared to evaluate successful integration of modern technologies in solving manufacturing-related challenges.

SkillsUSA
To augment these efforts, FLATE partnered with SkillsUSA and Jaeger Corporation to coordinate two high-tech manufacturing-related competitions at the Florida SkillsUSA State Championships. These three-day competitions were held April 20-22, at Manatee Technical Institute in Bradenton, and involved over 1500 students in all career disciplines from schools across the state.

“Champions at Work - Leadership in Transition”, the theme behind this year’s competition, represented the core values of SkillsUSA’s national program. At the “Automated Manufacturing Technology” competition, teams were evaluated on their usage of computer-aided drafting/design, computer-aided manufacturing, and computer-numerical-controlled machining technologies to manufacture a prototype component. Similarly, the “Robotics and Automation Technology” competition evaluated teams on their use of modern machine control systems, operation of a 5-axis servo-robot, and sensors and motorized devices to solve a simulated production-process challenge by designing and operating a robotic work cell. Teams in both competitions were evaluated on teamwork, academic and employability skills, and the successful usage of each of these technologies to solve manufacturing-related challenges.

State competitions winners
Teams from Treasure Coast High School won first place in both contests with strong competition from Middleton High School in Tampa, and Manatee Technical Institute in Bradenton. Both winning teams are scheduled to compete at the SkillsUSA national leadership and skills conference in Kansas City from June 21-26. Jaeger Corporation, a provider of learning products and services for the K-20 educational market, provided Denford Mills and Pegasus Robots, equipment and simulation software along with technical services to support both events. Paul Beyers, employee at Sun Hydraulics in Sarasota Florida, who served as an event judge said “SkillsUSA is a great way to motivate students to work hard and learn in school, and then have a way to apply what they’ve learned. Hopefully, they can take these skills to the next level and apply them at high-tech firms in Florida.”

FLorida TSA State Conference
FLATE also helped with another effort aimed at promoting technical education on a statewide basis. At the Florida TSA State Conference, David Gula, FLATE outreach manager served as one of the judges for the System Control Technology I & II competitions. The event was held May 1 in Orlando, and involved 27 teams comprising of 60 students across the state.
During the competition, middle school participants worked in a simulated environment and designed a prototype mechanism that could regulate a household’s water usage—various various amounts on various days—based on the severity of a local drought. High school students, on the other hand, designed and built a device that would exercise the fingers of a paralyzed individual when actuated by the weight of the hand and for a variety of movement cycles. Both groups used computers, developed the software, built the models and operated them autonomously.

Besides being a high-tech endeavor, the event represented FLATE’s commitment to support FLTSA’s mission to enhance “technological literacy, leadership, and problem solving, resulting in personal growth and opportunity.” For more information on these events contact the state winners or visit www.fl-ate.org, www.skillsusa.info, www.floridatsa.com, or www.floridafirstregional.com