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Community - Oct 4, 2019

Students compete for cash prizes; learn about local career opportunities

Local Sources | Dubois County Free Press

Students compete for cash prizes; learn about local career opportunities

High school students put their skills to the test on the Vincennes University Jasper campus for National Manufacturing Day, competing in hands-on activities showcasing manufacturing skills and learning about the industry.

The competitions were a part of the first Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing Challenge held on Oct. 3 in The Center for Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing on the VU Jasper campus. Twenty-four teams of 144 students from nine high school corporations participated in the event.

CTIM director Jacob Berg proposed the competition based on his experience at a similar competition he has attended. The goal is to bring students from around the area to the campus to experience what VUJ has to offered for technical training. Additionally, the students get to learn more about the area’s employers.

Students competed in eight challenges sponsored by local companies, including Jasper Engines and Transmissions; Waupaca Foundry; Farbest Foods, Inc.; Indiana Furniture; Kimball International; Kimball Electronics; Best Home Furnishings; and MasterBrand Cabinets. 

“The best part was being able to work with my friends,” Jasper High School student Edwin Sanchez said. “I got to learn what they could do and learn what I could do, which was a lot of fun. The challenges were all really challenging. I had a lot of fun trying to figure them out.”

More than $3,500 in cash prizes were awarded to the first-, second- and third-place finishers of each challenge, the top overall teams and other winners. The top three overall teams were Heritage Hills No. 1, Pike Central No. 2, and Southridge No. 3. The Heritage Hills No. 1 team won the Teamwork Communication Award.

“We got to see a lot of companies in our area and the good opportunities that they provide as well as work on communication skills with teammates and practice the engineering principles that we work on in school,” said Nick Brinkman, a senior at Heritage Hills High School.

Students were tasked with executing a variety of challenges. The Jasper Engines and Transmissions’ challenge involved building a filter to create pure water. Kimball International had students determine the best way to package a 3-D printed chair for delivery, then tested their methods using a robot. The Farbest Foods’ challenge involved creating a way to distribute turkey feed to a toy dump truck, transporting the feed to a turkey farm, assembling a fan to cool the animals, then loading miniature turkeys into a truck for processing, and loading the product for delivery.

Perry Central High School students (L-R) Christian Holman, Dylan Hubert, and Maria Hubert build an electronic assembly to drive a motor in a challenge sponsored by Kimball Electronics. Photo provided.

“This challenge is a really great idea by VUJ,” said Alex Mlsna, a Technical Service Manager for Kimball International. “There’s a lot of technology and information in Dubois County, and this is a way to help bring it closer to students in the area and get them involved. I can see this really growing.”

Businesses are challenged with recruiting and training their workforce. VU Jasper is helping bridge the gap by hosting events like this and offering incumbent worker training programs, workforce development initiatives such at the Career Advancement Partnership (CAP) program, and the Automation and Robotics Academy where high school students are immersed in a learning environment and real-time work experience. The CTIM also houses three programs for the Patoka Valley Career and Technical Education Cooperative.

“We think it’s really valuable that students learn about the career opportunities offered locally,” said Kate Schwenk, a People Services Representative at Jasper Engines and Transmissions. “This really engaged the kids and hopefully opened their eyes to different problem-solving challenges and different careers within the community. There are career opportunities locally. They don’t have to leave to find their career choices.”

 

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