High school students compete for cash and bragging rights at Vincennes University Jasper CTIM Challenge

Photos provided.

High school students put their skills to the test and demonstrated their knowledge of technology, innovation, and manufacturing to earn prizes in the Vincennes University Jasper CTIM Challenge. 

The event provides a fun, engaging, and interactive competition focused on cooperation. About 144 high school students from 10 schools and one university participated in the challenge at the Center for Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing on the VUJ campus Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Students from Forest Park, Heritage Hills, Jasper, Northeast Dubois, Perry Central, Pike Central, Shoals, South Spencer, Southridge, Tell City, and the VU Jasper Automation Robotics CTE program formed 24 teams. The teams competed for $3,690 in cash prizes. The eight challenges were sponsored by local companies: Farbest Foods, Inc; Jasper Engines; Jasper Group; Kimball Electronics; Kimball International; MasterBrand Cabinets; Wabash Valley; and Waupaca Foundry. It is the first time Wabash Valley, which is located in Dubois, Indiana, has sponsored a challenge. 

“We wanted a chance to interact with local high school students and spread the word about our business and all the great things we have going on,” said Wabash Valley Human Resource Director Bill Harris. “We also wanted to see students in action and how they relate to challenges and how they handle the pressure and the stress. It’s almost like a pre-interview. Anytime you can interact with kids this age who are at a crossroads where they are getting ready to exit high school and take that next step, it’s just fun being around them and having 25 minutes of an influence on them.” 

The competition was a practice in utilizing real-world skills like communication and problem-solving. Students were challenged to use the resources they had and work well together. The Wabash Valley challenge required groups to build the tallest tower capable of supporting a flat of plastic eggs with materials ranging from pipe cleaners to popsicle sticks while staying under budget.

The Jasper Engines’ challenge involved building a filter to create pure water.

Kimball International had students determine the best way to package a 3-D printed chair for delivery, then tested their methods using a collaborative robot or cobot. 

Jasper High School Career and Technical Education Instructor Josh Dahmer brought 12 students making up two teams to the CTIM Challenge. 

“The students like the challenge aspect,” he said. “They like to be able to show what they are made of and flex their brains. It’s impactful from a standpoint of pride and being able to solve problems. These are challenges they are going to be faced with in the job field. Being able to see potential employers at this Challenge is vital for them to make connections early for their careers. The employers are going to remember these students and what they are capable of.” 

Cash prizes were awarded to the top three teams in each challenge and the top three teams overall. The Heritage Hills No. 2 team won first place overall. The second-place overall prize went to the Southridge High School No. 3 team. Third place overall was awarded to Forest Park No. 1 team. The winner of the Teamwork and Communication Award was the Northeast Dubois No. 2 team. 

The CTIM Challenge is a perfect example of VU Jasper bringing industry and education together, plus connecting local employers with potential future employees. 

“VU Jasper and CTIM staff are working hard to fill the gap that continues to exist between education and industry,” CTIM Director Jacob Berg said. “We’re bringing both groups to the table via internships, plant tours, presentations, and events like the CTIM challenge. Stakeholders share a common vision. We want our students to know who we are and what employment opportunities exist before they graduate high school. Our students should never leave this regional area without exposure to the backbone of our community. We are fortunate to have industry partners who appreciate this critical piece to sustainability and progress.” 

VU Jasper is at the forefront of connecting students from Dubois County and surrounding areas with transformative educational opportunities in high-wage, in-demand careers and collaborating with industry partners to develop a modern and uniquely skilled workforce. Students in the Career Advancement Partnership (CAP) program and the Automation and Robotics Academy are immersed in a hands-on learning environment and gain real-time work experience. VU Jasper also partners with the Patoka Valley Career and Technical Education Cooperative in pathway programs such as Construction, Law Enforcement/Criminal Justice, Certified Nursing Assistant, Human/Social Services, and more.

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