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Lockport schools reign as king of Tech Wars Edge out Newfane in event at NCCC

For the first time in four years, the Newfane Central School District was knocked off its first place throne at Niagara County Community College's Tech Wars competition.

Students from the Lockport City School District became the area's new kings of technology Wednesday as they took first-place in five categories in the 10th annual competition.

Lockport edged out Newfane, which came in first in four categories.

Sixteen school districts and schools, including the Warsaw Central School District and the Buffalo Academy of Science, competed.

Emmet Belknap Middle School pupils provided the extra punch that put Lockport on top. They placed first in the categories of T-shirt Design, Mousetrap Cars and the Middle School CO2 car race
competition, said John D. Craig, NCCC's director of Tech-Prep Education.

Lockport High School senior William G. Anterline, 17, won the "King of the Hill" competition with the remote-control robot he created.

With 24 robots entered in the competition, Anterline defeated six contestants head-on. He said he was able to outmaneuver other robots as they raced to one end of a playing field -- a long bordered table -- to retrieve a Ping-Pong ball and bring it back to a ramp at the other end, then place the ball in a hole.

"My robot put the ball in the hole at least once in each competition . . .," he said. "The rush was the best thing about it. I loved it. It was awesome."

It was Newfane students, however, who won the coveted "sumo robot" fight championship, always the event's featured show.

With 96 entries in the sumo fights, Newfane's team of Patrick Wright and Nicholas Pardee came in first as they forced other robots into submission, one after the other, with the bulldozer-like robot they created.

The competition resembles college or Olympic wrestling matches. Points are scored either by knocking another robot out of a circle or incapacitating it.

Newfane also took second place, with a robot designed and built by Todd Thomas and Daniel Langendorfer.

The Lewiston-Porter School District team of Arron Oliphant and Eric Randall placed third.

Oliphant also won the first Christopher D'Angelis Memorial Scholarship of $750 based on his performance as a student and his dedication to community service. D'Angelis, 17, also a Lew-Port student, died in a one-car crash on his way home from last year's Tech Wars competition.

There was a lot more to this year's Tech Wars program than robots beating on each other.

Niels Andersen, a tech teacher at Lockport's Emmet Belknap Middle School, had his team make electric guitars from scratch, built at three-quarter scale.

Seventh-grader Carson A. Butler, 12, said, "It was a lot of fun learning how to make a guitar you can actually play when you're done and sounds good.

"My favorite part was shaping the neck because you can do it anyway you want with the help of tools like a power sander," he said. He said his guitar has a more rounded, space-age look.

Other students did architectural work, like designing plans for a dream home and making balsa wood bridges that can hold quite a bit of weight.

Craig said Tech Wars is put on annually to encourage students to understand and use technology in the classroom and to learn how it relates to math, science and communications.

"It also fosters camaraderie and helps develop team building and communications skills," Craig said. "We also do it because it makes education fun and it gives kids something to look forward to during the school year, and provides competition between schools in a venue other than sports."

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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