Vincennes University Jasper hosts Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing Challenge

Vincennes University Jasper hosts Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing Challenge

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October 04, 2019

October 4, 2019

Vincennes University Jasper hosts Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing Challenge

Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing Challenge photos

JASPER, Ind. – High school students put their skills to the test on the Vincennes University Jasper campus for National Manufacturing Day, competing in hands-on activities showcasing manufacturing skills and learning about the industry.

The competitions were a part of the first Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing Challenge held on Oct. 3 in The Center for Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing on the VU Jasper campus. Twenty-four teams of 144 students from nine high school corporations participated in the event.

Students competed in eight challenges sponsored by local companies, including Jasper Engines and Transmissions; Waupaca Foundry; Farbest Foods, Inc.; Indiana Furniture; Kimball International; Kimball Electronics; Best Home Furnishings; and MasterBrand Cabinets. 

“The best part was being able to work with my friends,” Jasper High School student Edwin Sanchez said. “I got to learn what they could do and learn what I could do, which was a lot of fun. The challenges were all really challenging. I had a lot of fun trying to figure them out.”

More than $3,500 in cash prizes were awarded to the first-, second- and third-place finishers of each challenge, the top overall teams and other winners. The top three overall teams were Heritage Hills No. 1, Pike Central No. 2, and Southridge No. 3. The Heritage Hills No. 1 team won the Teamwork Communication Award.

“We got to see a lot of companies in our area and the good opportunities that they provide as well as work on communication skills with teammates and practice the engineering principles that we work on in school,” said Nick Brinkman, a senior at Heritage Hills High School.

Students were tasked with executing a variety of challenges. The Jasper Engines and Transmissions’ challenge involved building a filter to create pure water. Kimball International had students determine the best way to package a 3-D printed chair for delivery, then tested their methods using a robot. The Farbest Foods’ challenge involved creating a way to distribute turkey feed to a toy dump truck, transporting the feed to a turkey farm, assembling a fan to cool the animals, then loading miniature turkeys into a truck for processing, and loading the product for delivery.

“This challenge is a really great idea by VUJ,” said Alex Mlsna, a Technical Service Manager for Kimball International. “There’s a lot of technology and information in Dubois County, and this is a way to help bring it closer to students in the area and get them involved. I can see this really growing.”

The Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing Challenge is another example of VU Jasper bringing industry and education together.

“The facilities at VU Jasper are top notch and bringing in area industries to have these competitions for the students is a lot of fun for them,” said Andy Fischer, an engineering teacher at Heritage Hills High School. “It also lets the students branch out to know what is available in our area.”

Businesses are challenged with recruiting and training their workforce. VU Jasper is helping bridge the gap by hosting events like this and offering incumbent worker training programs, workforce development initiatives such at the Career Advancement Partnership (CAP) program, and the Automation and Robotics Academy where high school students are immersed in a learning environment and real-time work experience. The CTIM also houses three programs for the Patoka Valley Career and Technical Education Cooperative.

“We think it’s really valuable that students learn about the career opportunities offered locally,” said Kate Schwenk, a People Services Representative at Jasper Engines and Transmissions. “This really engaged the kids and hopefully opened their eyes to different problem-solving challenges and different careers within the community. There are career opportunities locally. They don’t have to leave to find their career choices.”


The Vincennes University Jasper Campus is a vital part of Indiana’s first college, Vincennes University. The Jasper Campus fulfills the vision of a Dubois County citizens group CoHERE, founded in 1960, that was dedicated to improving area education and cultural enrichment. Vincennes University joined as a strong partner opening a Jasper location in 1970.

VU Jasper is located on a beautiful 140-acre campus on the southeast side of Jasper. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, VUJ tuition and fees rank among the most affordable of all Indiana colleges. In addition to offering associate degree and certificate programs, VUJ students can complete a bachelor’s degree online or at the Vincennes Campus.

VU Jasper’s Center for Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing is a hub for community engagement in local education. It is home to the Career Advancement Partnership (CAP) program, a major workforce development initiative between VUJ and local manufacturing companies. It also houses several programs for the Patoka Valley Career and Technical Education Cooperative, including a new Automation and Robotics Academy.

In addition to the CTIM, other campus facilities include the Alvin C. Ruxer Student Center, Arnold F. Habig Library Learning Center, Administrative Classroom Building, and a Jasper Campus Classroom Building that holds a state-of-the-art simulation laboratory for healthcare training. Adjacent to the campus is the Jasper Arts Center that includes a 675-seat theatre and visual arts galleries.

The VU Jasper Campus has developed to serve thousands of students in Dubois, Spencer, Martin, Perry, Crawford, Harrison, Pike, Orange, Daviess, Lawrence and other surrounding counties in Indiana.


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MARCIA MARTINEZ, University Life Reporter & Sports Information Director
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VINCENNES UNIVERSITY, Department of University Relations,