Congratulations to High School Technology teacher Mike Lepkyj and his second place champions Dominic Vitterna, Dan Squire and Ryan Miller in their event from the NCCC (Niagara County Community College) Tech Wars.
There were over 400 high school and middle school students from 24 school districts that attended the one day Technology Education event. There were 17 individual events that were all based on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concept.
The goal of the event is to allow students to take what they learn in the Technology classrooms and compete in a hands-on educational, yet fun program. The hope is that the imagination of the students may go beyond the classroom where they develop such a deep interest in technology they will make a career of it.
Senior Dominic Viterna describes the event they took the silver in. "Essentially it was a capture the flag, but there are other ways to score points. You have to get soccer balls off of buckets which is pretty difficult. There is a two foot height limit. Ours was one of the few ones who could score points in that way because we could get the soccer balls off, the other ones were not tall enough or did not have the right equipment to do so." This is his second year at the event. "It was a pretty good experience. There were a lot of different events going on, so it was good for different schools and grade levels to participate and observe. We had an issue with the 3D printing part of the challenge which kept us from getting first, but we feel good about how we finished."
Teammate Dan Squire, also a senior, says the Technology class has been a great experience for him. "This was my third year at Tech Wars and the team worked hard on their robot for the challenge. The robot was just a two motor, four wheel square with a slanted front with a little pole on the back with a piece of wood to knock the soccer ball off the buckets. It was controlled using DEX motor controllers. It felt really good how we competed. We had won every match, but the last one, which was unfortunate."
The students get to go to three tech wars a year; one at NCCC, Genesee Community College and Erie Community College. Twenty to twenty-five students go to NCCC and 60 students go to GCC and ECC. "The students will do the boats and trebuchets challenges and some will do the mystery project where they use cardboard and duct tape," says Mr. Lepkyj. "Freshmen will do the trebuchet and the upper classmen do the robots. In our Introduction to Engineering class, I let them pick what they want to compete in."
He says he and his students look forward to the tech wars. "I have had a team in the competitions for the past ten years starting when I was at the Middle School. It was great when I got into the high school because we got to participate in events that were a little more challenging." Mr. Lepkyj says it doesn’t matter to him if the students win or lose. "I just want them to have a good experience and get something out of this. We all have a great time every year."