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Nathan Schrock and Eric Warnick, students in the Wood Technology program, recently returned from the 2010 International Woodworking Fair at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Going up against 21 schools including powerhouses like Purdue, Brigham Young, and Iowa State, the two took first and second places in the Case Goods category. Judges were challenged to rank pieces from 50 finalists within the competition's six categories.
First-place winner Warnick, a senior from Overland Park, Kan., made a mahogany-framed, king-size bed with quartered sapele book-matched veneer. Schrock, a graduate student from Harper, Kan., built a nine-drawer quartered figured walnut veneer dresser that took a close second. Both students worked on their projects over the course of the spring semester - a unique opportunity, as PSU has the only four-year program in the country with an emphasis of secondary wood manufacturing.
"My heart pounded when they announced Nathan as the second-place winner, then I was overjoyed when Eric's name was announced," said wood technology adviser Doug Hague, who accompanied the students to the competition. Previously, students from PSU have taken home the titles of First in Class (2002) and Best of Show (1988). "We were sitting in the room with all these prestigious designers and schools that specialize in design, so for them to win among that competition says a lot about their talent and comprehensive education. It is proof that when we encourage students to keep dreaming and be creative, there are dividends involved."
John Iley, chairman of the Department of Technology and Workforce Learning, said he is impressed at the amount of work the students put into their projects.
"They not only designed the projects, but they also manufactured all the parts, assembled, and finished the projects right here at PSU," he said. "Many design schools farm out the actual manufacturing of their project parts because they don't have access to equipment or they lack the technical expertise. It makes us proud that our students did it all."
Taking home cash prizes for their titles (although at approximately $9,000, Schrock's dresser is valued at far more than the amount of his prize), the students say the real benefit is in the job opportunities these wins could provide.
"Job recruiters have already been contacting us," said Schrock. "We didn't go in expecting to win, but the experience has been pretty exciting."
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