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After months of fundraising, Illinois State technology and engineering education students attended the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association’s (ITEEA) 79th Annual Conference held March 16 to 18 in Dallas. Faculty advisors Chris Merrill, Josh Brown, and Ted Branoff also attended the conference. This year’s conference theme was “Engaging and Empowering Decision Makers Through Integrative STEM Education.”

The ITEEA is the professional organization for technology, innovation, design, and engineering educators worldwide. The conference brings together teachers, teacher educators, administrators, state leaders and others to learn about advancements and successful programs in technology and engineering education. The Technology and Engineering Education Collegiate Association (TEECA) is for college students who are preparing for careers as public school technology and engineering education teachers. Participating in the competitive events is a learning opportunity for the college students to increase their experience, skills, and knowledge in areas including teamwork, technical/design interests, problem-solving, project management, and how to coach their future students in their design and problem-solving teams.

“It’s great because in addition to being exposed to invaluable resources and contacts in the top of our profession, TEECA also allows us the opportunity to see a lot of our country’s history that many of us may not have gotten the opportunity to see otherwise. In Dallas, we were able to visit the J.F.K. assassination site in Dealey Plaza, and last year our national conference was in Washington, D.C., where we were able to experience a lot of different historical sites and museums,” said Alex Dunfee, a master’s student.

During the conference, TEECA students attended various professional development sessions, listened to respected professionals in the field, and participated in TEECA student competitions.

Department of Technology TEECA students Dunfee, Alex Hurst, Andrew Wiercinski, Andy Gonzalez, Atif Hussain, Eric Tecuanhuehue, Jake Wenzel, Jarod Battisto, Jon Babcock, Jordyn Imana, Josh Katz, Nick Schwieger, and Ryan Buckel participated in three student competitions: Technology Quiz Bowl, Transportation Challenge, and the Communications Challenge.

“It was a lot of fun especially being on the same team with my good friend Nick Schwieger, who is also president of TEECA,” Tecuanhuehue said. “My second favorite part of the trip was meeting up with the students from Purdue. One of their TEECA members is one of my friends who I actually used to coach when he was in high school and I was in community college. The students at Purdue are really great and it’s always a good time whenever we meet up with them. Two years ago we first met them at the ITEEA conference in Milwaukee and we’ve kept in contact with them ever since.”

The Technology Quiz Bowl is a bracket-style competition pitting TEECA chapters from across the country. The teams answer questions relating to the core concepts of technology, the technology education profession, and pedagogical concepts. In the Transportation Challenge, students model, design, and fabricate a new frame for a drone with the ability to pick up and transport objects of various shapes and sizes. In the Communication Challenge, the students are tasked with creating a 90-second PSA video to celebrate what teachers do and their impact and then they created a movie poster to advertise their video.