Woodland’s Manufacturing Team Places Fourth at Skills21 Expo

Woodland has many different classes and programs, but one that is often overlooked is its Manufacturing Workshop. 

Students from the manufacturing class annually attend ExpoFest, a competition sponsored by Skills21 held in June, at Oakdale Theater in Wallingford. This contest challenges students who are interested in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field. There, over 60 teams from schools all around Connecticut compete in various challenges with projects that they have worked on throughout the school year. 

One of the offered challenges is the Advanced Manufacturing Challenge. Each year, there is a different prompt with requirements that teams have to fulfill in order to participate in this challenge. The prompt usually focuses on a particular skill that could be useful in real-life situations, such as last year’s prompt, which was to build a human-powered water filtration system that could pump five gallons of water in five minutes. It was intended to simulate a situation in which it would be potentially dangerous to be right next to a water source; for example, if one was attempting to collect water from an extremely fast moving river.

Bill Carangelo, manufacturing teacher at Woodland, participated in last year’s challenge with a team of four students. They knew that it would be challenging, but the team went into the challenge with a positive attitude and a good plan. They used CAD (computer-aided design software) to create and print most of the parts for the project. 

“Along the whole way there were struggles,” Carangelo said. “The biggest problem was that the ABS plastic we used was porous. That’s what really hurt us.” 

According to the British Plastic Association, ABS plastic is a thermoplastic polymer, meaning that it becomes liquid at a certain temperature (221 degrees Fahrenheit). It is commonly used for 3D printing and manufacturing because of the fact that it is relatively inexpensive and easy to machine. 

Chris Manning, a member of last year’s team, recounted that the hardest part was making sure that the system could pump five gallons in five minutes and that the material was safe for drinking water. 

“We made our pump cylinder bigger,” Manning says, “and we researched our materials extensively.” 

On June 1st at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, teams presented their filtration systems to a panel of judges. The systems were ranked on 10 categories, including written documentation, CAD drawings, marketing and image, project exhibition and presentation, speed of pump filtration, and safety of access to water source. There were five possible points to be earned in each category and fifty possible points total. Woodland’s team scored a 31.66 overall, and placed fourth out of ten teams, beating several vocational schools. 

This year, the challenge prompt is to create a machine that will turn plastic bags into rope. This challenge is intended to encourage recycling of plastic bags and help the environment. Carangelo has put together a new team of students, and this time they intend to win. They have already designed and constructed a mock-up, or a working prototype, of the machine. 

“The plan is to go to the expo in June, at Oakdale, and place better than we did last year,” Carangelo says. “The ultimate goal is always to win.”