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Students excel at technical events

MANATEE — More than 120 Manatee District students and adult advisors from nine area middle and high schools returned home with top honors Saturday from the 32nd Annual Technology Student Association Conference in Baltimore.

Manatee teams earned 23 first, 11 second and 4 third-place trophies June 28-July 2.

In the C02 balsa car dragster design competition, Manatee area students swept first, second and third place awards.

Haile Middle School’s Ryan McGary won the middle school event with Nolan Middle’s Nathan Miller and Samuel Nassab placing second and third, respectively. Lakewood Ranch High’s Brennan Hocker finished first in dragster design for the high school level. Cory Chin won third with Braden River’s Jeremy Petty claiming the second place spot and Brandon Demer finishing fourth.

“I’ve been doing the dragster competition since my eight grade year,” Hocker said. The recent Lakewood Ranch High School grad is headed to the University of Central Florida, where he is looking at majoring in aerospace engineering.

He credits his eight grade TSA advisor, Justin Devine, with giving him the initial motivation to get involved in the competition.

“This was definitely a work in progress and kept improving, Hocker said.

Involvement with TSA brought him into contact with other local students from Southeast, Braden River and Manatee high schools, as well as across the country, Hocker said.

Bryan Dexter, who was a Nolan Middle School eighth grader last year and is headed to Lakewood Ranch High School, won first places in flight with his balsa wood glider and in technical drawing.

Among his other honors was a top 10 finish in the robot building competition, and a second place team award for boat design.

“I am really excited for my high school years and I can’t wait to see what TSA is like there because all the events change, said Bryan, 14.

Previously, the Herald reported that Southeast High School’s Team OCR won the “Formula One In Schools” Championship and Fastest Car Award qualifying the five-member team to represent the United States at the World F1 Championships in London or South Africa September, 2011.

“This is one of the largest groups our school district has ever sent to nationals which is a reflection of the district’s strong commitment to providing technical education to our students. With increased demand for technical expertise escalating in the United States, the mission of the Technology Student Association’s work in the schools is of great importance to the school district,” said Doug Wagner, director of Adult Career & Technical Education, in a press release.

At the conference, Justin Devine of Nolan Middle School, and Margi Nanney of Southeast High, received Florida’s Advisor of the Year Awards.

Southeast’s Mark Nanney was awarded both the William Hanson Scholarship and the Distinguished Student Award for six years of achievement and service to TSA. Nanney will attend Florida Institute of Technology beginning in August.

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