Christopher Walding, Mariah Wolschleger and Jennifer Ognibene display the medals they received fo...Christopher Walding, Mariah Wolschleger and Jennifer Ognibene display the medals they received for winning the Texas SkillsUSA competition.What started out as a class project has led to national recognition for three Temple College engineering technology students.

Jennifer Ognibene, Christopher Walding and Mariah Wolschleger recently took second place in the Engineering Technology/Design category of the national SkillsUSA competition for college students.

The team won the award for their design of a new product to organize all the equipment needed for computer gaming. Their proposed product helps reduce the tangling of wire that can occur with gaming equipment, which also poses a safety hazard.

“There are similar products on the market, but we had noticed that one or two things would be missing on these products that we wanted to incorporate,” Wolschleger said.

The product grew out of a group project the three did for their Introduction to Engineering Design class taught by Dr. Sandra Melendez. Walding and Wolschleger are long-time gaming enthusiasts and recruited Ognibene to help with the project.

Dr. Melendez, who also serves as advisor to the STEM Club, encouraged the three to enter their design in the SkillsUSA competition, and they readily agreed.

“It was something new to challenge us,” Walding said.

The team members spent three months preparing their entry for the competition.

“Some nights, we worked till 9 or 10 p.m. via Zoom meetings,” Wolschleger said.

Their final product was presented in a 3-dimensional CAD format. As part of the design process, the students had to ask a local engineering firm to review their project. The students got assistance on this part of the process from Michael Drybola of Panel Specialists, Inc. (PSI), who is a member of the Engineering Technology program’s Industry Advisory Board.

Drybola gave the students advice on a range of topics, including target market, safety considerations, materials, ergonomics and product liability.

“Michael Drybola’s feedback was extremely helpful,” Ognibene said. “We included most of his feedback into the design of our final product.”

The team made it to the national competition after winning first place in the Texas SkillsUSA competition in April. Both competitions were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

PSI as well as several other local businesses donated money to fund the team’s participation in the competition.

The three students got together on June 24 to watch the announcement of the national award winners via Zoom.

“I was just happy we made the top nine finalists,” Wolschleger said. “It was a huge shock for me when we found out we took second place. I was very proud of the team. I never thought I could be part of an achievement like this.”

Wolschleger noted their achievement was particularly impressive since this was the first time the Temple College STEM Club had participated in the competition.

Wolschleger and Ognibene both said they would like to keep working on the product and enhancing their design.