Moraine Park holds first annual Distance Challenge

by jbrezinsky24. May 2012 05:21

     Ballistas, slingshots and trebuchets filled Moraine Park Technical College’s Courtyard at the first annual Distance Challenge, held recently at Moraine Park’s Fond du Lac campus. Students from Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School, the Fond du Lac Home School Association, West Bend East and West High Schools and Slinger High School formed teams and built contraptions with the goal of launching a rubber ball the greatest distance.
     “This is the first year we offered the competition.  We wanted a competition that required the students to design, build and troubleshoot,” said Tom Roehl, Moraine Park Process Engineering Technology instructor. “I think the students all did a great job, and the employers that attended were very impressed with the creativity shown in the machines.  We’re hoping to grow this in the future because local employers are very concerned about the skilled labor shortage, and it’s young people like this that are the future of Manufacturing.”
     Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School came in first by launching their object 184 feet and 2 inches. Students Ethan Hau and Jordan Kissinger’s winning device was a slingshot design. The duo used surgical tubes, two-by-fours and canvas to create “Slingshot 5,000.”
     Slinger High School’s Zach Rueckl came in second at 111 feet and 4 inches. Rueckl’s “Proto II” contraption used a ballista design. “I wanted to have the most original design at the competition so I went with the ballista, it’s a roman siege that was built for breaking walls. I was able to control the angle better with a complex machine,” said Rueckl. Rueckl’s distance goal was to break 100 feet, which he accomplished.  
     Coming in third at 111 feet was a team from West Bend East and West High Schools consisting of students Nathan Groth, Austin Pelzman, Isaac Theis and Samuel Nagrocki. Their “Second Chance” resistance slingshot got its name because they scrapped their first machine when they weren’t happy with the results.
     The Fond du Lac Home School Association had a team of two sets of brothers: Isaiah and Sam LaVanway and Noah and Josiah Poss. Their “Giraffe” contraption used a counterweight and two hockey sticks to make a trebuchet design. “Giraffe” ended up launching the rubber ball 88 feet and 2 inches.
     Dawn Poss, mother of Noah and Josiah, thought this was an excellent learning experience for the team. “Through the building process, they learned endurance and patience. They had to see what wasn’t working, analyze it and learn from it,” Poss said.
     Rob Bauer works at Waukesha Metal Products in the tool and die area. He enjoyed seeing the competition and the excitement and creativity that sparked with project participants. “We are always looking for skilled workers, and this is a great way to get students thinking about careers early. If they have an interest in this type of field, we can get them to the right career path early on.” 
     View more images of the event here.
     For more information on Moraine Park programs, visit