PITTSBURG — A team of 13 Pittsburg State University students took home five national awards in technology education this month.

As members of the PSU chapter of the Technology and Engineering Education Collegiate Association, the students competed in the International Technology and Engineering Educator’s Conference April 12 through 14 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The team earned five national awards -- second place in live manufacturing and educational display, and third place in communications, transportation and teaching lesson. The team began working on their competition entries in February.

“We didn’t win any national championships, but we got the most awards of any university in attendance so I was very proud of our students,” PSU Assistant Professor Byron McKay said. “These are our future tech ed teachers.”

For the transportation competition, the team had to design and manually fly a drone. Communications, meanwhile, involved a specific video topic with all of the documentation that comes with design.

“It wasn’t just taking a drone and trying something out, but rather a lot of planning and documentation,” McKay said. “The competition is about only a third of the points, and then the documentation is a big part.”

The teaching lesson competition required the students to write their own lesson. Educational display focused on producing a research project, while the manufacturing contest covered design and planning.

“All of our students are future teachers and a lot of these competitions involve things that they’re going to teach their students,” McKay said. “The lesson itself and the planning itself factors in — maybe not the same format, but the principles will be there, and that’s what I really like about this.”

Carter Stolberg, a junior in PSU's Technology & Engineering Education program, said he was pleasantly surprised with the results of the competitions.

“We went in fairly stressed because we were doing a couple things at the last minute and we didn’t think we were doing as well as we thought, but we were able to rally in the end and do a lot better,” Stolberg said. “Point-wise we got about third place, but in terms of getting the most awards, that was us.”

Stolberg said the team prides itself on its ability to tackle as many of the competitions as possible.

“A lot of teams will only do manufacturing or transportation or just focus on two or three challenges, but we try to hit every single one just to give ourselves a better chance,” he said. “Being a tech ed teacher, you have to be well-rounded and you don’t really know where you’re going to be, especially with the environment that exists now.”

The student said the biggest takeaway from the competition was learning to have fun with the experience.

“With robotics we actually had a situation in which another team didn’t have functioning motors, so we let them use our motors and they were actually the team that knocked us out of the last match,” Stolberg said. “It’s something I learned in high school called gracious professionalism, where you work hard but you also help other people work hard.”

 — Brandon Schmitz is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be reached at bschmitz@morningsun.net.