Purdue to host regional Phoenix Contact Nanoline Contest

Purdue University will be host the second annual regional competition of the Phoenix Contact Nanoline Contest February 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The College of Technology at Purdue will host nine schools in the contest that will determine qualifiers for the national competition at Phoenix Contact’s national headquarters in Harrisburg, Penn. The winner of the national contest will travel to Germany in April to showcase their project at the Hanover Fair, the world’s largest industrial tradeshow. Phoenix Contact began the contest in 2009 as part of their STEM initiatives.

Brad Harriger, professor of mechanical engineering technology, and Alka Harriger, professor of computer and information technology, are spearheading the regional contest. This year's competition began with 18 teams, and after last week’s final checkpoint, nine have qualified to compete in Saturday’s regional competition. In 2013, the contest started with 13 with four qualified to compete at regionals.

“Success in the Phoenix Contact Nanoline Contest relies heavily on problem-solving skills,” Brad Harriger said. “It is giving them an introduction to controls, and we’re trying to get them excited about technology and using it to solve problems.”

Each team is provided with the same basic kit of Phoenix Contact Nanoline controllers and nanoNavigator software. They also receive a $200 gift card to purchase additional equipment for their projects.

“They are asked to innovate a product that somehow shows off the technology and creates something useful that has the potential of reaching a larger market,” Alka Harriger said. “Part of their presentation involves talking about the broader appeal of their product.”

Competing teams include three from Benton Central High School, Walker Career Center from Indianapolis, Plainfield High School, Jasper High School, Dubois Middle School, Forest Park High School from Ferdinand, and F.J. Reitz High School from Evansville. They have created a wide-range of projects, including automated pet feeder, automated lawn mower, vending machine, text blocker, environmental monitor, and an affordable wind-energy generator.

The competition portion will take place in the morning. Public displays and demonstrations will begin at 1:45 p.m. in several classrooms of Knoy Hall followed by an awards ceremony at 2:30 p.m. in EE 170.

In 2013, two of the regional teams qualified for the national contest where both placed in the top five in a pool of nearly 20 teams.

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