VU Jasper hosts annual CTIM Challenge for high school students

Technology majors testing out a project that they built.

November 16, 2023

JASPER, Ind. – More than 11 high schools from throughout the region showcased their skills and ingenuity at the annual CTIM Challenge hosted by VU Jasper in the Center for Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing.

With bragging rights and cash prizes up for grabs, student teams collaborated to present innovative solutions to eight hands-on challenges reflective of industry demands on Wednesday, Nov. 8. By engaging students in real-world challenges posed by local companies, the CTIM Challenge enhances their understanding of applied skills, instills a sense of relevance in their academic pursuits, and introduces them to employment opportunities.

"It was a fun experience to be a part of,” Forest Park High School senior Aaron Beckman said. “We got to use our knowledge in a fun way within a series of challenges that local companies designed for us. We got to know the people from each of the companies and also got to learn more about what the companies do. It was a fun way to gain a connection with companies and other students in our area."

Three students testing out a catapult that they built.Industry partners Farbest Foods, MasterBrand Cabinets, Jasper Engines and Transmissions, Kimball Electronics, Kimball International, Waupaca Foundry, OFS, and Wabash Valley Foods sponsored the eight challenges.

“We sponsor the CTIM Challenge because it’s a fun and engaging event,” Wabash Valley Vice President of Human Resources Billy Harris said. “I like the fact that student groups battle throughout the day in a broad spectrum of contests, challenges, and competitions to win money. The manner in which these student groups attack these situations throughout the day gives business leaders a sneak peek at the next generation set to join the workforce.”

Cash prizes totaling $3,980 were awarded to the top three teams in each challenge and the top three teams overall. The VU Jasper Automation and Robotics Academy won first place overall. The second-place overall prize went to Southridge High School. Third place overall was awarded to Heritage Hills High School.

CTIM Director Jacob Berg said, “It is exciting to see the collaboration between the students and the local industry partners in the CTIM Challenge. This unique experience is more than a competition. Industry partners witness firsthand the remarkable potential of our future workforce while the participants navigate the real-world scenarios, and these challenges cultivate the spirit of innovation and collaboration essential for success in manufacturing and technology.”

Students measuring a tower they built for the Egg Challenge.Wabash Valley’s Egg Challenge gave students 15 minutes to construct the tallest tower possible to support an egg - all while staying under budget with material costs, testing their problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills.

“We get to challenge the next generation and see how they respond to that challenge,” Harris said. “We get to see firsthand the struggles and triumphs that groups go through as they battle. In a sense, the event serves as a microcosm of an interview. Equally as important is we get to spread our company’s story and explain current initiatives, including possible job opportunities, that students can benefit from knowing.”

From manufacturing tasks that demand attention to technology challenges pushing the boundaries of innovation, the CTIM Challenge mirrors the multifaceted landscape of today’s professional landscape.

See 2023 CTIM Challenge Photo Gallery:

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