Middle School Engineers Club Competes Year-Round

Photo courtesy Manchester schools

MANCHESTER – The Manchester Township Middle School Future Engineers Club have been very successful competing in a variety of engineering and robotics competitions throughout the year. Advisor, Maura Simister, and several of her students gave a presentation about their activities at the recent Board of Education meeting.

“These students work so hard all year long,” said Simister. “It’s like they play three sports, they compete all year.” The club has about 30 student members divided into three teams. They start in late September and meet from two to eight hours per week through late May.

Simister said the club competes in four main competitions per year. They had competed in the SeaPerch and MATE underwater robotics competition in previous years, and recently added the Tech Prep competition at Ocean County College, which involves a land robot. She said the Tech Prep program also includes a programming component using Mindstorm and she wanted her students to get programming experience because that is where the jobs of the future will be.

The teams took part in two recent competitions. The first was the MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) underwater robotic competition at Villanova University. This was a multi-state competition including middle school through college levels. The other was the Tech Prep cardboard canoe design and race at Ocean County College.

Photo courtesy Manchester schools

“In addition to designing and building their robots and canoes, these competitions require the students to maintain notebooks, both digital and written with drawings, to show the process from start to finish using the engineering design process. The students must do a presentation to a board of judges explaining their process throughout the year or planning period,” said Simister.

The first time her students went to Tech Prep, Simister said the idea was to just to get information and learn what they would need to do.

“Well, we took 2nd Place,” she remarked. “The next year we took every level of competition.”

This year the MTMS teams took 1st and 2nd Place for presentation and 1st Place for robotic pickup and delivery.