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WITC hosts student ISA competition

WITC's Team A claimed fourth place in an industrial automation, controls and networking (IACN) event held at WITC's New Richmond campus. From left: WITC instructor Rose Cibulka, Dylan Fultz, Mike Larson, Bill Schmitt, and Ryan Moen.

(5/5/14): Nearly 80 college students and their instructors, including 10 from WITC-New Richmond, recently competed in an industrial automation, controls and networking (IACN) event hosted by Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. The annual student competition is sponsored by the International Society of Automation (ISA) and moves from college to college. Students traveled from all over ISA’s District 6, which includes Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

Thirteen teams of four students competed for a full day to solve problems and answer questions developed by ISA members. Topics included PLC programming, wiring, pneumatic valves, ph testing and other industry-related challenges.

WITC's Team B finished in ninth place. From left: Mike Steinkamp, Kevin Momeni, Kyle Stratton, Cliff Mortenson, and Rose Cibulka, WITC instructor.

According to the ISA judges, this year’s teams competed very well, noting that only 30 points separated the top and bottom teams.

 The top two scoring teams then met face-to-face in a Quiz Bowl to determine the winner. WITC’s teams came in fourth and ninth this year, with the Iowa team taking first. Since it began offering the IACN degree in 2006, WITC has taken first place two times and hosted the competition twice.

 “The questions cover both years of learning for our students,” says Rose Cibulka, WITC instructor of the IACN program. “The curriculum differs throughout the district. For example, some offer process control in the first year, whereas ours is in the second year. Also, WITC is the only college to offer computer systems administration as part of the curriculum.”

 “It’s an excellent learning experience,” Cibulka says. “The students experience teamwork and learn from visiting students. And, while it’s nice to have the competition here, it’s also good to visit the other schools to see how their programs are set up.” Instructors participated in a roundtable discussion of best practices while the students competed.