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SKILLS USA

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Q & A With SKILLS USA AMT Judge & Ivy Tech Associate Professor Steve Bardonner

Skills USA is one of the most important annual events that demonstrates the talents of thousands of high-school students across the United States in the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky. These students are competing for wonderful prizes through various competitions ranging from cosmetology, to Advanced Manufacturing. But the most revered prize of all, is a job.
Every year among the hustle and bustle of the event, industry members view competitions with watchful eyes and jobs offers ready to be awarded to those that succeed. But let’s not forget how much effort and time goes into such a competition. Without the help of Ivy Tech and people like Steve Bardonner, Skills USA wouldn’t be what it is today. We had an opportunity to sit down and get an interview with Ivy Tech Community College’s Associate Professor and Dean of the School of Technology and Applied Science and Engineering Technology, Steve Bardonner.

Steve Bardonner SkillsUSA

Intelitek: How would you describe your participation at SkillsUSA?

Steve: Back in summer of 2014, I was having a discussion with Intelitek’s Regional Sales Manager Rob Clarke about some general topics. Somehow the subject of Skills came up and he was saying that due to the relocation of the event, he was in need of establishing new contacts and judges at the new venue. I mentioned to him since Louisville was near Indiana that I would be happy to help. Already familiar with Skills USA from being a program chair at Ivy Tech in Muncie who for a few years participated in the CAD Competition, I was excited to be involved. At the competition I served as a judge in the AMT (Automated Manufacturing Technology) Competition using my expertise as a CAD person and educator in evaluating the projects.

 

Intelitek: What are your thoughts regarding the event? Favorite moments? Anything truly memorable?

Steve: I came away very impressed by the organization, the events, and the venue. The other thing that stood out with the professionalism that all the students demonstrated in and out of the competition.

 

Intelitek: What is Ivy Tech and why should people know about Ivy Tech?

Steve: Ivy Tech is the largest Community College System in the United States and the largest state-funded college in the state of Indiana. Ivy Tech’s purpose is to help people improve their careers by preparing them for the demands of a variety of professions. We offer anything from industrial certifications to Associate degrees several programs to include many that made up the competitions at Skills USA. Also many regions compete in Skills.

 

Intelitek: What was the role of Ivy Tech in your attendance at Skills? And what kind of work do you do there?  (You’re the Dean of Science and Technology correct?)

Steve: When I told my administration that I had been asked to participate (which also included the Office of the President) much support was given to me by giving me the time from my very busy schedule to be a part of this exciting program. I am the Dean of the Schools of Technology and Applied Science and Engineering Technology at the Central Indiana Region of Ivy Tech that offer programs in Robotics, CNC, Welding, Automotive, CAD, and many more of the competition events.

 

Intelitek: We would love to have you again, would you come back again next year?

Steve: I would very much like to be a part of this program and return to Skills USA next year.

All of us at Intelitek want to thank Steve Bardonner and Ivy Tech for making the Automated Manufacturing Technology competition possible.

To find out more about Ivy Tech, visit https://www.ivytech.edu/


Q & A With SKILLS USA Mobile Robotics Champions Morgan Chen and Samarat Darren Srivathanakul of Richardson HS, Texas

The SKILLS USA National Championships were held June 24th and 25th in Louisville KY, with 6,000 of the country’s top career and technical education students competing in over 100 different trade, technical and leadership fields. To earn a spot at the prestigious national event, all participating students had previously won a state contest.

Within the competition, Intelitek set the industry based competencies and standards for three of the contests, including Robotics and Automation Technology, Automated Manufacturing Technology, and Mobile Robotics Technology; all of which have seen an increase in participation levels by 10% from the previous year.

The Mobile Robotics competition contains teams of two students who build a robot based on design, assembly and build instructions they create and store in an engineering notebook. The students are judged on the quality of the engineering notebook, an oral presentation in front of industry based judges and robotic performance on a competitive field

Intelitek’s Product Manager, Trevor Popesat down with Mobile Robotics gold medal winners and Intelitek users Morgan Chen and Samarat Darren Srivathanakul, two seniors at Texas’ Richardson High School.

Morgan and Darren on the competition field

Morgan and Darren on the competition field


Intelitek – We would like to understand your journey. What were your goals and what obstacles did you overcome throughout the season?

Morgan – Like every competing team, our goal was to create a robot that would score the most points and ultimately earn the gold medal. To achieve that goal, my teammate and I focused especially on an efficient robot design and a strong autonomous program. We understood that a simple but strong robot design was all that we really needed, yet a strong autonomous program would be necessary to gain an edge in the competition, especially at the national level. In the end, patience and perseverance were key to overcoming these and all obstacles that we faced.

Darren – Our goals this season was to come back from last year’s loss and improve our designs and skills to get a better placement in the competition, or even win. Many design mechanics were made as prototypes to our drive, lift, and intake systems, but many failed to perform as smoothly and efficiently as we wanted them to.

 

Intelitek – What made you a successful team? 

Morgan – I believe that one important factor to our team’s success was our experience gained from last year’s competition. For example, my teammate and I realized that while we were given a day to build our robot, it was vital that we set apart some time to test out and practice the operation of the robot as well. Furthermore, we realized the importance of the autonomous program in the competition and the importance of practice with the manual driver operation. Another key factor that I believe contributed to our success was our dedication and motivation. My partner and I spent countless work hours throughout the school year, and oftentimes stayed after school and worked at home when necessary to perfect our robot and work on the notebook and oral presentation as best as we could.

Team 126's robot carrying two cubes to the scoring zone

Team 126’s robot carrying two cubes to the scoring zone

Darren – We worked throughout the year, thinking of and producing new designs to improve the performance of our robot.

 

Intelitek – How did you become interested in robotics? 

Morgan – I played a lot with Legos as a child, sparking my interest in building and creating; principles closely aligned with robotics and engineering. In my last year of elementary school (6th grade), I joined a robotics magnet program that my school provided where we worked with the Lego Mindstorms NXT kits. I continued with the robotics magnet program through my middle school years, where I worked closely with AutoCAD software and machining skills. I followed the magnet program to high school, as my past experiences with the robotics program only further kindled my interest in robotics and engineering.

Darren – Since I was a little kid I always loved toy cars and Lego products. I built a love for mechanics and engineering through the robotics program in my elementary school, the Math Science and Technology Magnet, where we used LEGO Mindstorms to experiment with building and programming robots for competition. This heightened my interest in robotics greatly and I continued to enjoy exploring robotics with VEX in the robotics magnet program in Richardson West Junior High and Richardson High School.

 

Intelitek – What are your future plans and did they result from your experience in robotics?

Morgan – Ultimately, I aspire to pursue a successful career in engineering, ideally one geared towards but in no way utterly bound to the branches of mechanical, electrical, and/or computer science engineering. I’m interested in robotic engineering and its application to defense technology, and am an admirer of the work of companies such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, etc. My future aspirations are heavily influenced by my experiences in robotics as the underlying principles inherent in robotics, such as design and construction, have always interested me.

Darren – After finishing my high school robotics program, I plan to study some form of engineering whether it be electrical or somewhere else in the field. I would really like to work in engineering in the future.

 

Intelitek – Do you use Intelitek’s EasyC software and / or our Robotics Engineering Curriculum or other curriculum?  Was it helpful?

Morgan – My teammate and I opted to use Intelitek’s EasyC programming software for our competition autonomous program. EasyC software was helpful in the creation of our robot’s autonomous program as it was straightforward and clear-cut.

Darren – We used easyC v4 for the past couple years. It is easy to use, great for beginners and easy to program simple and complex tasks for sensors and motors.