October 27, 2017 3:00PM
Abigale Smith, from Parsons High School, sat in the driver's seat of a Bobcat as she worked the controls to pick up a soccer ball and deliver it to a trashcan — nothing she expected she'd be doing when she got on a school bus to head to Pittsburg State University's annual College of Technology Open House at the Kansas Technology Center.
Meanwhile, students from Circle High School in Towanda, Kansas, watched a CNC machine creating a game board, while a group from Gravette High School in Northwest Arkansas gathered around a robotics demonstration.
And in the Wood Technology wing, Owen Kling, from Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, worked through each step necessary to create a Gorilla coaster to take home, starting with sanding it, then using a spray booth, and to finish it, an industrial oven.
"This is my first time here," said Kling, who is interested in architectural engineering but is weighing other degree programs as possibilities. "It's great to get to see everything that's offered."
Assistant Professor Byron McKay said the event is intended to help students like Ethan Hainline, a freshman from Gravette, make an informed decision.
"It's been good to see stuff demonstrated," Hainline said. "I've been wanting to get into something like this. I have awhile to decide, but this gives me ideas."
PSU students were out of class for the day in order to conduct demonstrations and assist high school students.
"I can relate," said Max Burson, a PSU junior in Wood Technology from Warrensburg, Missouri who helped Kling with his Gorilla coaster. "I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do in high school, but as soon as I visited this place, I said, 'OK, I'm going here."
The event was memorable for a few high school teachers in attendance, as well, because they once were students at Pittsburg State themselves. Howard Newcomb, who earned a master's in Technology Education in 1998, brought 20 of his students from Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, and was happy to reconnect with his professors, including John Iley and Vern Morton.
"Pittsburg State goes to a lot of effort with days like these," Newcomb said. "Taking time to really show our students all that is here and how it works. It's great."