High School Students Compete in Design Competition at Advanced Manufacturing Training Center

A canoe, horseshoe, train and wagon wheel — these are just a few of the bike-rack themes related to Osceola County history that eighth- through 12th-grade students from Kissimmee’s Zenith Accelerated Learning Academy designed for a contest in partnership with their school, Valencia College’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Center (AMTC) and Osceola County. On Thursday, May 23, 2019, 11 students visited the AMTC and presented their bike-rack designs to a panel of judges. The winning design will be manufactured by Valencia’s AMTC students and then installed between the Osceola County Administrative Building and the Osceola County Historic Courthouse in Kissimmee.

This is the third year for the project, explained Zenith’s Digital Media Teacher Debbie Bohanan, who works with the students in a digital video class. Debbie helps the students create their designs in a 3D design program, SketchUp, and prepare their presentations for the judges.

“For a lot of the students, they didn’t know manufacturing existed prior to this project,” she explained, mentioning that each of the students also receives a tour of the AMTC following their presentations. “This opens the door to a career they may not have known about before.”

High school sophomore Edwin Benitez has participated in this program for three years and was the first competition winner in 2017 when he designed a bench that was manufactured by AMTC students and now is installed at Zenith Accelerated Learning Academy.

“Participating in this program has been fun for me,” Edwin said. “I’ve learned many things along the way, and I’ve considered joining the AMTC program following high school,” he said, although he also shared that he’s most likely to pursue a career as a movie producer.

As a competition winner, Edwin was invited during his summer break to the AMTC to shadow Valencia students as they manufactured his bench, and he experimented on-site with a virtual reality welding machine and coded a robot to weld. During his visit, he even created a Nike symbol with his father’s name on it, a gift he was able to take home to present to his dad on his birthday.

“It [his visit to the AMTC] was so cool,” Edwin exclaimed. “They [AMTC faculty and students] welcomed me like family.”

Judges, including District 4 County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb, Osceola County Public Information Coordinator Andrew Sullivan, Zenith Accelerated Learning Academy Principal Robert Studly, AMTC Director Mike Kepner and Advanced Manufacturing Part-time Welding Instructor Juan Ayala, selected 11th-grade student Bri Hastings’ horseshoe design as this year’s winning project. AMTC students will manufacture the bike rack in July 2019, and it will be installed in fall 2019.

Left image: Left to right: Mike Kepner, winner Bri Hastings and Commissioner Chery Grieb
Right image: Student Bri Hastings’ winning horseshoe bike-rack design. 

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