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Gateway students take top three spots at national digital futures competition

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Gateway Technical College students swept the top three spots of the American Technical Education Association 3D Futures Competition, an event that challenges students to use digital tools to modify or address a team-designed problem.

Gateway students Suzanne Conner (Racine), Mari Jocson (Milwaukee) and Tom Visintainer (Kenosha) captured first place in the competition, students Michelle Frahm (Burlington) and Jesus Maldonado (Racine) captured second and Ryan Koeppen (Burlington), Jeffery Foat (Waterford) and Justin Roehl (Janesville) captured third.

Gateway Architectural - Structural Engineering instructor Robert Kaebisch, who leads the effort to advise and encourage students with their projects, said the competition teaches them how to work as a team, to make decisions quickly and to think outside the box as they solve problems.

Kaebisch was particularly impressed with the presentations of this year’s competitors.

“They have to come up with the ‘problem’ and then the solution using digital technology as part of that solution,” said Kaebisch. “That’s the hardest part. It’s easier when someone comes to you with a problem, and you have to work to find the solution. It’s much harder when you have to do the research to determine a problem and then come up with the best solution.

“This year’s presentations were outstanding. I think the judges felt so, too.”

Kaebisch said the competition also shows students how to work as a team on a project, helping them build soft skills they will need in their careers.

“I like the competition in that the students have to work together on a common goal in such a short time frame,” says Kaebisch. “They also have to come up with a presentation and a project management plan within that time too. It brought them together, and they were all very proud of their projects.”

  • The first-place team took home a $1,500 cash prize. Their project, LIFE Systems, proposed a building emergency lighting system to help direct people to the quickest and safest exit from a burning building.
  • The second-place team took home a $1,000 cash prize. Their project, Knight Lock, proposed a more secure locking system to safeguard tractor trailer cabs and cargos.
  • The third-place team took home a $500 cash prize. Their project, On-Site Visuals, proposes creating a program to direct drones to project full-size floor plans for buildings yet to be constructed to show exactly how its footprint would look on an open area of a property.