Tech showcase draws students, spectators

April 2014

Hundreds of students from middle schools and high schools across the Mohawk Valley gathered in the Wildcat Field House this March for the 13th Annual Mohawk Valley Technology Education and Pre-Engineering Showcase.

“The idea is that any kid who gets involved with us has an opportunity to engage in a challenging, hands-on STEM related activity that lets them grow, collaborate and be part of a larger community,” said SUNYIT K-12 Outreach Coordinator Elizabeth Rossi.

MVtech Showcase 2014The students gave live demonstrations and presentations of all the work and creativity they are putting forth in their technology education classes, giving the public, professionals, and engineering students at SUNYIT the chance to see what the next generation is working on. Competitions and demonstrations included Computer Aided Drafting and Design, Balsa Bridges, Energy-themed Logo design, KidWind and Robotics.

One such robotic demonstration was by CNY+, a consortium of all the area FIRST Tech Challenge teams. Robots are built to compete against each other in a common objective. This year’s goal was to move yellow blocks in a corner of a ring into crates in the center of the ring.

Gwynnie Lamarche, 14, from New Hartford, attended an academic summer camp at SUNYIT hosted by the New Hartford RoboSpartans and is now a member of the team. She and her teammates watched as their robot accomplished its tasks with ease at the showcase.

“In FIRST Tech Challenge, it’s not just about the robot,” LaMarche said. “It’s also about the team. People that have to come together to accomplish something and I find that really cool.”

Aside from the works created by area students, the showcase featured technology-related businesses from the area, organizations and schools that can show those students what type of career opportunities exist for them in the Mohawk Valley and tech-related programs open to them along their academic path.

SUNYIT engineering students like Bianca Little and Aleesha Feole were among the judges for the showcase. They hope that such events can show K-12 students not only how much fun and interesting engineering can be, but give them a guiding hand down the same paths they pursued.

“I hope that the young students find that there are many things that you can do in engineering and it’s not a sit-behind-your-desk kind of job. Engineering is fun and there are lots of interesting things that you do with an engineering degree,” Little said. “I feel that it’s important for kids to have opportunities to explore STEM subjects and projects so that they have an idea of different career opportunities.”

“I’m hoping they see something they like and that can take them into considering something they like here as a career and pursue it in college,” Feole said. “The way these kids look at things and think about things is extraordinary.”

With roughly 20 schools taking part in this year’s event, students, their teachers, and spectators all seemed to be having fun while at the same time seeing just what can be accomplished when these young students put their minds, and a little creativity, to it.

“My hope for any STEM event is that the kids will recognize their own deep capacity for good work and for the challenging academic application of their math and science skills,” Rossi said.