They were the smallest group at the New Mexico State Technology Student Association Competition, but when they came away from the competition all four of the competitors would be heading to the national competition in Nashville in June.
“I’m very proud of them,” said sponsor/coach Charles Gallegos who took the group of four middle-school students, Justin Alvarez, Camron Manning, Keldon Sherwood and Kaitlin Lopez and one high school student, Andrea Garcia, to Albuquerque for the technology competition. “I think they did a really good job considering their small size.”
The competition includes problem-solving, decision-making and critical-thinking contests relating to communications, power, energy, transportation, engineering, manufacturing and construction.
Gallegos said the Tucumcari group received recognition from a number of different sources while they were at the competition in the Duke City.
“We had praise from one of the judges who said the kids were really well prepared despite being under something of a handicap,” said Gallegos.
The handicap the judge referred to was that one of the Tucumcari students forgot to bring designs and specifications of the small racing cars which he had designed, built and raced.
“He would have got first if he would have brought them,” said high school sophomore Garcia.
As it was, the young man took third thus qualifying for nationals later in the year.
Roughly 200 students from around the state took part in the competition which tested the young people’s mental adeptness in technological and mechanical challenges.
In the middle school competition placing from Tucumcari were: Technology Issues, Justin Alvarez and Camron Manning, Second Place; Flight Challenge, Manning, Third; Leadership Challenge, Alvarez, Manning and Keldon Sherwood fourth; Mechanical Challenge, Kaitlin Lopez and Alvarez, first; Structural Challenge, Manning and Lopez fourth; Technology Bowl, Sherwood, Alvarez, and Lopez; Transportation Challenge, Lopez and Manning, Second.
In the high school division Andrea Garcia placed first in Computer-Aided Design. She also placed second in Extemporaneous and fourth in Structural Challenge.
Gallegos said the focus is now on the national competition June 20-24 in Tennessee where the four from Tucumcari will meet up with roughly 4,000 other young people to compete for national recognition.
“It is so cool,” said Garcia about the national competition. “So many things are happening. It just never stops. There will be kids there from every state and Puerto Rico and Australia and Germany. Well, it’s just cool.”
Seventh grader Lopez agreed with Garcia saying that she too was looking forward to going to Nashville. While she has never attended a national technology competition as have Garcia and Alvarez, her brother has and his retelling of events there has sparked her excitement.
“I’m really looking forward to going,” said Lopez.