I was sixteen when I began my sophomore year at Highland School of Technology. I had been picked through a lottery to get into this special high school, and because of this, I was given many opportunities. I joined the Technology Student Association (TSA) that was available at my school because my career pathway ended up being Manufacturing Engineering. Although my true intentions didn’t fall along the lines of Engineering, I still learned a lot and had fun while doing it. I’m glad my teachers at the school encouraged me to join TSA.
The club challenged me to think creatively and improved my team-building skills. Mr. Wingfield, our academy coordinator, was super glad I joined the club. Each year we had Regional, State, and National TSA events to go and compete in as a school. There were many different fields of events to choose from and compete in against other high schools. He hoped I would take this opportunity seriously and pick a field that I felt I could be successful in. After our first TSA meeting, I went home and thought long and hard about the event I could be triumphant in.Order now
Soon enough, I had my first meeting in the Engineering lab at the school. Mr. Winfield and the other staff members asked us to pick our top two competition choices. After an internal debate, I had decided that I’d feel most comfortable with joining the Animatronics team. In Animatronics, the participants were required to demonstrate knowledge of mechanical and control systems by designing, fabricating, and controlling an animatronics device that would communicate, entertain, inform, and demonstrate and/or illustrate a topic, idea, subject or concept.
I was super happy I made the choice to enter this competition; even my engineering teachers agreed that this event would suit me. I knew it was going to be a demanding task but we, as a school, were known for receiving first place in Animatronics for the past five years. The team met in the engineering lab each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We immediately started brainstorming different ideas and ways we could make a super cool and intellectual device. After a short debate, we finally came to a conclusion that we would create a robotic Mickey Mouse.
Now this definitely was doable, but it certainly was something we could not procrastinate on if we wanted a trophy. Right off the bat, we started mapping out how we would shape the mouse with the wood supply our teachers had given us. I thought it would be a good idea to make a wooden box, with wooden arms and place a basketball on top of the box for its head. My team agreed that this was a fantastic idea, so we took the wood over to the Vertical saw mill and cut out the parts that we needed.
After we constructed the parts together and painted over it, we had our lively-looking Mickey Mouse. Next, the hard part, we needed to add electronics to the device so it could demonstrate a concept. Our team leader decided that because of time rush, we should make his arms move as if they were trying to greet a new person with a handshake. This was difficult for high school students to create, but with our engineering teacher’s advice, it was feasible. I was assigned to attach wires to certain DCV’s that would trigger the arms to move.
This took great dedication and required that I spent many days after school in the engineering lab. It took a couple of trial and errors; I had troubles attaching the right wires into the corresponding slots in the DCVS’s. After many trials I was successful and the wires turned on the DCV’s, which in essence moved the arms up and down in a handshaking moment. I was proud of myself and seemed to have impressed my teammates, my teachers, and the academy coordinator. Before we knew it, the month of March had arrived.
It was finally time to go to the state competition and present our project to the judges of TSA. My team did numerous background checks and touch ups on the animatronic device before we walked into the competition room. Eventually it was time, and we walked in with our project to the event room. The moment we entered the room the judges started assessing each device. We all had our fingers crossed in hopes to receive first place. After a long hour, the judges brought us all together to announce the results. Our device received the second place award.
Although, we didn’t win first place, which was unfortunate, the team was super happy with second place, and all in all, I am glad that I chose to be in the animatronic competition. The competition taught me new skills in the engineering lab and helped me develop better team-building skills. I often think that maybe if we had devoted more time to the project it could’ve received a better placing, but I’ll never know for sure. I am super glad I had this experience because I enjoyed learning about engineering.