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Hard-wired for success

High schoolers win tech awards

POSTED: March 24, 2010 4:00 a.m.
Frank Reddy Dawson Community News/

Dawson County High School seniors Rene Santillan, left, and Austin Epps make adjustments to a robotic arm March 19 at the high school. Students used the device to win a state competition earlier this month.

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Tech-savvy teenagers from Dawson County High School brought home awards this month after a successful run at a state competition.


For two of the students, the next stop is Baltimore, where they will take on national and international competitors.


Austin Epps and Rene Santillan, both seniors at the high school, said they’re excited about the National Technology Student Association Competition in late June.


At the March 13 state competition in Athens, Epps and Santillan won first place in Technology Dare, a category in which students use electrical, fluid or mechanical energy to move a cue ball, baseball and ping pong ball.


Dale Auten, engineering and technology instructor at the high school, said the duo succeeded because “they work well together.”


“That’s the thing you’ve got to have at competitions like this ... teamwork,” he said.


Santillan said the keys to winning were the hours spent in preparation.


“You’ve got to put a lot time into it,” Santillan said.

Epps agreed.


“You have to put in the time,” he said. “You’ve also got to be willing to set time out of your day to do it.”


The duo also won last year’s state competition in the same category. The secret for the two-time titlists?


“You have to think outside the box,” Epps said.


Other awards won by local high school students at the state level included the following:


* Santillan, first place flight endurance; fourth in overall dragster design; and ninth in transportation modeling


* AnnaKate Auten, Braden MacDonald and Danny Maciolek, fifth place in architectural modeling


* David Pruett and Ryan Varnadoe, fifth place in structural engineering

Technology Student Association is a national organization open to any student interested in learning how engineering principals can be used in discovering solutions.


The high school’s Technology Student Association club is raising funds by offering laser engraving services.


Those interested in plastic, wood, glass, plaque and name tag engraving may contact Auten at (706) 265-6555.


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