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DeWitt: Sensis kicks off student competition

Rows of students listened to their first lecture of the day as they embarked on a two-month engineering journey Feb. 8 with Sensis Corp. The kickoff brought 82 aspiring minds together for the seventh annual strategic competition. The challenge? To create a device that moves delicate objects -- in this case an egg -- from one point to any number of predetermined spots on an assembly area.

"This one is going to be a lot of fun," said Laura Livingston, engineering contest coordinator at Sensis. "Contest day is a riot."

Liverpool High School will hold that event on March 29, when teams demonstrate their final product to see which device is most effective.

Participants include kids from seven area high schools and eight home-schooled children, most of who usually take on an engineering career path upon graduation.

"Most of the kids end up going to college for engineering," said Jamesville-DeWitt High School teacher Larry Stroh about his own students.

And that's good feedback for Sensis, a global provider of air traffic, defense and security systems. Through this competition, the East Syracuse-based company provides students a chance to work hands-on with its own professionals. For example, kids are required to develop and present a mock PDR, or Preliminary Design Review, for their Sensis mentors.

"We try to give them tips on how to give a good presentation," Livingston said. "We work on communication skills, teamwork [and] time management. We're trying to really let them get a taste of what we do for a living."

Stroh said he doesn't have to pump up the project for his students at J-D -- they look forward to it each year.

"They love it because it's about as real as it's gonna get," he said.

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