MCHS?student takes 6th at national competition

LEWISTOWN – Jonathan Chester is on a roll.

The Mifflin County High School senior placed sixth in the nation among competitors from all over the United States at the 2013 National Technology Student Association Conference, held from June 28 to July 2 at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla.

During a Thursday meeting of the Mifflin County School Board, Chester presented his model of a futuristic high-speed rail train. He said Transportation Modeling is a competitive event designed to assimilate the design process engineers use when creating vehicles. The competition requires high school students to design and build a model display of the physical train and organize a design book which includes a description of the vehicle, pictures that inspired the design, 3-D technical illustrations, a foam mock-up and a final technical illustration.

Chester qualified to compete at the national conference after earning first place in April at the 35th annual Pennsylvania TSA State Conference. Despite finishing first at states, Chester said he took the next few months to completely redesign and build a new train for the national competition. He said the final design is almost two times larger and includes much more detail than his first model.

This time, he hollowed out the inside of the model and used a 3-D printer to incorporate interior details including doors, lights and rows of seats. He also spent more than 20 hours meticulously painting the exterior. After the model was done, Chester designed a decorative display to hold the train.

Though he felt more confident about his efforts going into the national competition, Chester said there were still some bumps along the way. Even though the detail of his train and presentation of the model were improved, he said the train was too heavy to cross the finish line on race day. However, speed is only a small percentage of the points that factor into competitors’ final scores, and Chester’s attention to detail still placed him among the top 10 in the nation.

“It was a surprise for me again,” he said about qualifying as a national finalist.

Chester thanked Ed’s Train Repair and Sales for donating a large portion of the materials needed to build his project.

MCHS students Kevin Cahill, Tori Stewart and Kirstie Fultz also qualified for and competed at the national competition.