Local students compete in construction competition

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
Seven Rowan County teens were in Las Vegas recently participating in the International Construction Challenge.
They learned a lot, and learned a lot about the world all at the same time.
“It’s amazing, when you’re flying in, it’s dark, then you see this sea of orange,” said Chase Stamey, a junior at Carson High, referring to the flight into Las Vegas.
In addition to Carson High, students from Rowan County who participated in the event attend East Rowan and South Rowan high schools. They qualified for the international competition by winning a regional event in Georgia in January.
In addition to Stamey, students participating in the construction challenge were:
– Sam Banks, senior, Carson High;
– Keith Coughenour, senior, Carson;
– Thomas Mabry, senior, South Rowan;
– Dustin Aldridge, senior, South Rowan;
– Patrick Pigg, junior, South Rowan;
– J.R. Poole, senior, East Rowan.
Funding for the students to make the trip to Las Vegas was provided by Power Curbers, a Salisbury company that manufactures equipment that makes concrete curbs.
The Construction Challenge is an event intended to let students realize the employment opportunities available in the construction industry.
Students participate in a number of competitions where they do things like build miniature bridges and roads, then use remote-control cars to haul sand and gravel to a finish line.
There were 51 teams from 18 states competing. Members of winning teams claimed scholarship money and other prizes.
One of Rowan County’s participants, Poole, won one of the challenge’s top prizes ó a $5,000 scholarship.
Poole managed to do so based on an essay he wrote concerning his plans for a career in the construction industry.
His essay was selected through an Internet competition whereby he received close to 4,000 votes. Poole admitted that plenty of home-cooking went into his winning, noting that directions to the Web site and instruction on how to vote were distributed throughout the administrative offices of the Rowan-Salisbury School System and elsewhere across Rowan County.
Poole said he plans to become a mechanical engineer, starting his college career at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College before transferring to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Other competitions in which teams were involved included one where students built a crane out of balsa wood, then used the creation to build a miniature house.
“It all has to do with creative thinking and problem solving,” Poole said of the competition.
The Rowan County team’s advisor was Keith Anderson, a teacher in the engineering department at South Rowan High School.
Sam Banks, another of the team members, referred to the competition as, “A tremendously wonderful experience.”
He said all the challenges facing the participants are done as a team, meaning teamwork is crucial.
Asked what he’d learned, Banks said, “All kinds of skills and how to communicate with other people.”
Meanwhile, Stamey, the team member who was awed by the sight of Las Vegas as the plane approached the city, said the Rowan County bunch did well, though there were a few problems.
He noted that in the Road Warrior competition, the remote-controlled car operated by the Rowan County team stalled more than once. A trailer the car pulled was attached by a twist tie, which snapped in half at one point, further hindering the team’s efforts.
But Stamey noted that all the teams in the competition faced similar problems, and overcoming those headaches was part of the challenge and fun of the event.
“We had a few equipment problems, but everyone else did, too,” Stamey said.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@salisburypost.com.