Beginning in the spring semester of 1995, the Tech Prep office was the co-sponsor, along with the Electrical Engineering Technology Department, of the yearly Engineering Open House for high school students. This program was developed to get students acquainted with the campus and its engineering and engineering technology programs.
The campus engineering and engineering technology faculty presented a variety of engineering related activities on a rotating schedule that allowed students to visit labs, see equipment and observe engineering related topics.
Each year, an average of 200 students from the campus service area participated in this event. This activity was co-sponsored by the Tech Prep office until 1998, when evaluation done by the Tech Prep office indicated that students were not taking the best advantage of this activity and that perhaps it had outgrown it usefulness.
As a result of discussions with engineering technology faculty, the Tech Prep office decided to co-sponsor the first High School Technology Challenge. The program was piloted to a total of eight local Tech Prep and non -Tech Prep high schools. A group of faculty members from the high schools volunteered to join the campus engineering and Tech Prep personnel to plan this event. The first event was held on March 10, 1999 and was a great success.
Having no individual faculty member from the engineering or engineering technology department with ample time to devote to co-chairing this event the second year, the Tech Prep office took over the sponsorship of this now yearly event, with the involvement of a few engineering technology faculty members and several other faculty and staff from around the campus.
The Technology Challenge is held every year during Spring Break, which allows the campus to easily accommodate the space requirements for this activity. All schools within the campus and Tech Prep consortium service areas are extended an invitation to participate, and the number of schools fielding teams has increased each year.
Format and Team Competition:
The format of the competition is composed of a Round Robin series of hands-on problem solving stations. Problems are developed by Penn State DuBois faculty, local industry representatives and post-secondary students. All problems are designed to challenge the high school students to apply what they have learned in their classrooms and use critical thinking and problem solving skills.
There is no way for students and advisors to ‘study’ for the competition because students will have to apply what they have learned thus far. Possible areas of the competition problems are math, technical writing, Internet search, Materials, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology principles, logic, physics and communication skills.
Each school fields four (4) participants for the competition, however, they do not compete as a team. Each student is matched with 3 students from other high schools to form a competition team.
Each school MUST field a co-ed group of participants.
It is recommended that participants be either Junior or Senior students. These students will have had the opportunity to have taken some of the technology related courses within their program of study.
PURPOSE OF TEAM COMPOSITION AND COMPETITION FORMAT
The purpose of using this format and team composition is to mimic the workplace. Students come together the morning of the competition from a variety of high schools and vocational technical schools not knowing each other. They bring their strengths and weaknesses with them in terms of curriculum, style of learning and methods for problem solving and must apply what they have learned. Team members must communicate with one another in order to solve the challenges they encounter. As the day progresses, teamwork becomes a vital component of their success.
This method of team composition does not give any one school an advantage over another and creates a very level playing field for all schools involved.