McKinney ISD

 

Forging Ahead in a Cardboard Boat: MHS Engineering Students Make Waves at Texas TSA State Leadership Conference

Article|
Shane Mauldin|
Friday, December 15, 2017
The MHS Engineering Club Leadership attended the 2017 Texas Technology Student Association Leadership Conference in Kerrville Nov. 30–Dec. 2. Pictured here are (front row, l-r): Treasurer Caroline Potts, Alex Macias, Secretary Loren Smith, Madeleine Mott, (back row, l-r) Historian Dillon Ruff, President Albin Myscich, Sergeant-at-Arms Mathias Kidane, Vice-President James Halderman and Drake Mooney. Not pictured: Reporter Tyler Bagby.

The MHS Engineering Club Leadership attended the 2017 Texas Technology Student Association Leadership Conference in Kerrville Nov. 30–Dec. 2. Pictured here are (front row, l-r): Treasurer Caroline Potts, Alex Macias, Secretary Loren Smith, Madeleine Mott, (back row, l-r) Historian Dillon Ruff, President Albin Myscich, Sergeant-at-Arms Mathias Kidane, Vice-President James Halderman and Drake Mooney. Not pictured: Reporter Tyler Bagby.

McKinney, Texas – It takes a lot of moxie to strike out across a swimming pool in a hastily crafted cardboard boat—and a boatload of determination to actually make it to the other side.

McKinney High School engineering students Alex Macias, Madeleine Mott and Loren Smith put both to work at the Texas Technology Student Association State Leadership Conference held Nov. 30–Dec. 2 in Kerrville, placing second out of more than 40 teams from around the state in the conference’s annual Cardboard Boat Regatta, an event in which most boats end up on the bottom of the pool—and just keeping your head above water can win the day.

As wacky and quixotic as the whole thing is, there’s something inspiring about these three girls who refused to admit defeat.

Girls paddling cardboard boat across pool at night

Macias first attempted the challenge three years ago. Like most, that attempt didn’t go very well.

“They give you two sheets of cardboard that are 110 x 66 inches, and your challenge is to build a boat in 30 minutes, and the only thing you can seal off is the seams,” she explained. “You can’t laminate the boat in an attempt to try to seal it or make it waterproof. Basically, you’re going for buoyancy. The first year that I did it, we made the boat and sat down in the boat—and the boat sank.”

So, back to the drawing board…

“The second year,” Macias said, “we made it [most of the way] across, and then towards the end, our paddles—which were also made of cardboard—started disintegrating. We were sinking, so we started paddling with our hands. Unfortunately, when you start using your hands, that’s an automatic disqualification.”

Back to the drawing board, again…

“This year, we said, ‘Alright, we’re going to get this done,’” Macias said. “So, we did a design, and we tested our initial design—and it failed.”

And, again…

“So, four hours before the competition started, we completely re-did our design on the spot as well as our paddle design. When the 30 minute time period began to start assembling everything, we started that process—made our paddles, made our boat, taped everything off. When we got in, we started sinking immediately, so we thought, ‘Oh, no!’” Macias said.

“But, we wanted to make it across. We had to take a minute, readjust and then we were ready to go. We started paddling, paddling as fast as we could. But, we made it across, and we scored in second place. I believe our time was 1:21.

“We were really happy with that.” said Macias. “Everybody was cheering. It’s a great environment to be around because so few people get across that everyone wants you to succeed. It’s really nice.”

Macias, Mott and Smith were one of only about four boat teams (out of around 40) to actually go the distance.

Crazy adventures in cardboard boats are just one way the TSA Leadership Conference helps officers from local chapters network and hone leadership skills. Through lecture sessions and other team-building activities that place them in groups with students from other schools, the conference helps prepare them to lead their local TSA chapters effectively.

Macias, Mott and Smith (Secretary) were part of a larger MHS team that included officers Albin Myscich (President), James Halderman (Vice-President), Caroline Potts (Treasurer), Tyler Bagby (Reporter), Mathias Kidane (Sergeant-at-Arms) and Dillon Ruff (Historian). MHS students have attended the conference for the past five years, and engineering teacher Robert Gupton has found it to be a great experience for his students.

“There are several things I like about the conference,” he said. “First it allows our leadership to bond, and since the conference is run by students, it also gives them a chance to see if they might want to run for a state position. They get to meet students from other schools who have similar interests and learn more about career opportunities that are available. Our students are competitive by nature, and they get to compete in some of the events such as the boat race and the spaghetti/marshmallow tower building competition. And, the conference provides them with information about the expectations for regional, state and national TSA events.”

That’s important for a team that did quite well at regional and state last year and sent three teams to the TSA Nationals in the Animatronics, Biotechnology and Coding events.

As Engineering Club president, Myscich—who along with Macias, was a member of last year’s MHS NASA Rocketry Team—wants to do everything he can to help the team build on past success, and toward that end, the conference offered some fresh views on leadership.

“The conference was definitely something I can add to what I know about leadership,” Myscich said. “I took two years of JROTC, and I pretty much pull most of my leadership experience from them. I definitely owe a lot of my leadership to them, but it’s kind of nice to hear different leadership styles from different people and pull from that,” he added.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Macias said of the her fourth trip to the conference. “I think it’s really great that they host this event for a variety of ages and a variety of people. Everyone’s there with the same foundation of STEM and leadership, so it’s a good environment to be in.”

And, perhaps…in the midst of all of the talk about leadership, one of the best examples didn’t require words at all.

It just took three young ladies with a cardboard boat who refused to give up.

Sail on, MHS.

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