Dragsters, Animatronics Featured in Tech Competition

North Kingstown schools had a great day at a recent Technology Student Association (TSA) competition held at URI’s College of Engineering as part of their spring conference. The event drew some 200 students and judges from schools across the state. Shannon Donovan, a teacher at Wickford Middle School and their state advisor to the TSA said, “This was our first year after COVID to get back in person and do this, so it was really, really good to see the kids in action and start rebuilding the event.” Donovan said many of TSA’s partners in industry joined in the event as judges.

Winners in the dragster competition included siblings Jackson Bambara from Wickford Middle School and Taylor Bambara from North Kingstown High School. Jackson, who spent four months designing and building the car, enjoyed watching his hard work in action. “The best part of the day was seeing my dragster race down the track and knowing I designed it.” Sibling Taylor enjoyed seeing the different dragster designs.

Quinn O’Connell, winner of the high school animatronics competition and another North Kingston student, loved interacting with students from other school’s and learning about the different events. “I want to be a mechanical engineer, particularly in the field of sustainability or renewable energy. I love the prospect of creating technology that can help society have a better and more sustainable future.” 

Donovan likes seeing students have fun with their learning. “It’s a chance to apply what they’re learning and see what they learned in the classroom put to use. It gives kids a chance to excel in areas where they might not have the opportunity to excel. It gives them a new venue to show what they can do.

“We are super appreciative of being invited to the beautiful space in URI’s new engineering building. Having kids in that space helps with them seeing themselves in a place like that in the future. And they were able to get a lab tour from one of the professors, which was really awesome.”

“We’re happy at URI to provide support to the TSA for this event.” says Michael Trottier, Director of Facilities at URI Engineering. “There isn’t anything better than seeing the potential of students having fun with science and technology, many of whom might come to URI someday.”

Depending on fundraising and other logistical issues, Donovan hopes to bring her team to Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, to be held at the end of June.