LOOGOOTEE – It wasn't actually a “24” episode – sans Jack Bauer – but the enemy robotic was headed on a direct path to destroy its target, a functioning hospital.

However, before it could unleash its devastating attack, the enemy was successfully blocked by a detector robotic. This resulted in thunderous applause and cheers from the other nine robotic teams observing.

Ten teams participated Friday morning in a workforce simulation project in Jack Butcher Arena. Also observing were hundreds of Loogootee high school and middle school students, along with teachers, staff members, parents and interested residents.

Each team, consisting of five or six LHS students, prepared for this event one day a week for 14 weeks. Each team had students who are in at least one of four classes: computer science, engineering, business and mathematics.

Before the teams began their robotic demonstrations, they received encouraging words from U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, a Republican business owner from Jasper who was elected to his first term in 2016.

“What they are doing here needs to be done across the state,” Braun said, referring to Loogootee's emphasis in recent years on STEM education (science-technology-engineering-math). “This is a model other schools need to pick up on.”

Braun said he did not want to slight four-year degrees, but said twice as many graduates of Indiana's four-year colleges leave the state after graduation than stay here. He said job fields such as welding, mechanics and machinery are much needed. He also said training for these jobs results in much lower student debt and higher salaries both initially and throughout a worker's career.

Explaining the workforce simulation project to those observing was Adam Scribner, director of the Center for P-16 Research & Collaboration. It is part of Indiana University's School of Education. He had worked with the students to prepare for their public demonstration.

Scribner said currently only 13 percent of engineers are female. He said for many years leading engineering schools would not admit women. However, that has now changed and he expects the percentage of female engineers to steadily increase.

Another interested observer was Simone Murray, the executive director of DirectEmployers Institute, Indianapolis. Instead of a couple students going to an employer to observe the business, she created the workforce simulation project to allow a number of employers to observe all the students working as team members.

Kylie Van Hoy, a freshman on the Blue Lazers team, operated the intruder robotic. She has learned a lot being on the team. “I think it's really helped me a lot to decide what career path I want to take,” she said.

Chris Pow, a junior on the same team, is an exchange student from Hong Kong. He operated the defender robotic. He said being on the team has been fun and that teamwork is very important.

Tessa Bradley, a freshman with the D.A.D. team (detect, analyze, deter), said she used what she learned in math and business classes to calculate the proper speeds for the robotics. She also designed the team's poster and t-shirts.

C.J. Gibbs, also a freshman with the same team, used his computer science class knowledge to help program the robotics.

All 10 teams used intruder and defender robotics, but how they programmed them was up to the students to decide. When they demonstrated them as part of the simulation project, they found out if their programming was accurate.

Here are the students in each team:

o D.A.D. – Niklas Mauer, C.J. Gibbs, Tessa Bradley, Jacob Bowman and Rory Tippery.

o Securigo – Sean Page, Blake Wright, Grace Foddrill, Sina Poulsen, Jonathon Whitworth and Andrew Powell.

o K & K – Kento Ryojima, Drake Craig, Rodney Grimes, Jayleigh Harger, Makenzie Van Hoy and Luke Nonte.

o Blue Lazers – Chris Pow, Matthew Poole, Jace Walton, Lauren Holt, Kylie Van Hoy and Chantel Greene.

o NaCl – Bailey Dearwester, Trysten Stevens, Brayton Taylor, Reece Tippery, Jocelyn Strange and Reanna Bird.

o Heavy Machinery – Austin Taylor, Jace Toy, Ashton Godwin, Mikenna Jones, Annalise Powell and Sam Ausbrooks.

o Keller's Krew – Zane Cropp, Gaven Bledsoe, Jordan Dixon, Katie Callison, Nick Keller and Apryl Parker.

o Group 8 – Jonathon Hager, Kaleb Daniel, Isaac Arvin, Haylie Mathies, Jaylynn Stoll and Hannah Taylor.

o Safe Way Security – Mikel Flanagan, Zachary Arvin, Rachel Lents, Grace Gingerich and Tristin Castro.

o S-Tech – Andrew Bosell, Mason Roark, Caylin Wagoner, Tierlan Norris and Maks Cecakta.

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