Gateway Technical College students swept the American Technical Education Association Futures Competition, a design competition challenging students to find solutions to real-world problems.

This year’s competition focused on requiring students to provide solutions that incorporated digital tools required in industry today and how they transform how work is performed. All submissions were reviewed by a panel of industry and education experts.

Students from each team had to work collaboratively, determining a specific problem that could be fixed by technology, and then coming up with a digital technology solution. They had to produce a short video outlining their work and be ready to present it and defend their ideas to judges.

“This is more than just an academic competition, this will help them in the real world when they enter their career, too,” said Gateway Architectural Structural Engineering/Civil Engineering instructor and event adviser Bob Kaebisch. “They will be competing externally against other companies, they will be competing internally to get their ideas and projects out in front of people and they’ll be competing against other graduates for jobs, too.

“This helps them to look at projects holistically. They have to take a broad view of their projects and ask themselves how the public would look at them.”

Kaebisch says it also helps students to learn how to function as a team, something they will also have to do to be successful in their career. Gateway Civil Engineering student Logan Jeppesen, a member of the winning team, said the competition helped foster teamwork, innovation and a sense of pride at the intense, five-week project work experience.

“The big thing I gained was confidence,” said Jeppesen. “Confidence in what I’m saying and being able to share ideas with classmates and others. You also use public speaking skills and team building skills. You learn public speaking at Gateway, and that’s put to the test in the competition.

“I thought of the competition as a job. We put in some hard work, and to be rewarded … I feel grateful. I will have that in the back of my mind as I enter the workforce, the success we’ve had here.”

In addition to being named as winners, the first place group was awarded $1,500, second place $1,000 and $500 to the third place group.

The winners, and their short video submissions, are as follows:

First place: The Traffic RFID (traffic counts)

http://bit.ly/GTCTrafficLights

Students: Max Piehl (Kenosha), Jeppesen (Racine), Brayan Rodriguez-Gamino (Racine) and Adam Knautz (Kenosha)

Second place: Snoombie (remote controlled/autonomous snowblower)

http://bit.ly/GTCSnoombie

Students: Aysia Larson (Mount Pleasant), Evan Difiore (Sturtevant), Collin Aker (Franksville)

Third place: Combating Pathogens with Building Systems (using digital design solutions to fight pathogens)

http://bit.ly/GTCBuildPathogen

Students: Jason Gould (Kenosha), Daniel Stocker (Kenosha), Nathan Bailey (Union Grove)