Education

Manatee students race to victory in global STEM competition

From left, Jaxson Bunes, Cassandra Atzrodt, Alana Kelly, Ahmad Ibsais and Alex Kumar. Their team, Perspective Racing, won third place at the F1 in Schools World Finals, a global competition held in Singapore.
From left, Jaxson Bunes, Cassandra Atzrodt, Alana Kelly, Ahmad Ibsais and Alex Kumar. Their team, Perspective Racing, won third place at the F1 in Schools World Finals, a global competition held in Singapore.

A group of five current and former Manatee County students fought their way to third place in the largest global competition for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Known collectively as Perspective Racing, the students visited Singapore and represented the United States during the F1 in Schools World Finals. Hundreds of hours spent designing and constructing a miniature race car, built from balsa wood and powered by compressed air, led up to their victory.

Their team outpaced 47 other groups from dozens of countries between Sunday and Wednesday, according to a news release.

Perspective Racing includes:

  • Alana Kelly, the team manager and a senior at Braden River High.
  • Ahmad Ibsais, the graphic designer and a senior at Braden River High.
  • Jaxson Bunes, the design engineer and a 2018 graduate of Palmetto High.
  • Alex Kumar, the manufacturing engineer and a senior at Southeast High.
  • Cassandra Atzrodt, the resource manager and a senior at Southeast High.
  • Brian Kendzior, the team leader and a technology education teacher at Palmetto High.

Along with creating a miniature Formula One car, the team had to assemble a pit display, a 10-minute presentation and portfolios for engineering and marketing.

“A great team must have members who have skill sets in different areas such as physics, aerodynamics, design manufacturing, branding/marketing, leadership/teamwork and public speaking,” Kendzior said in a prepared statement. “They must be willing to dedicate many hours under pressure to be able to compete with other teams at the regional, national and world level.”

The team first competed in Austin, Texas, over the summer. They qualified to represent the U.S. in Singapore, where they continued a winning tradition.

Manatee County students earned first place in the 2010 World Finals, and then second, third and fourth place between 2011 and 2014, according to the release.

Deputy Superintendent Doug Wagner said the county’s students are “leading the way to a brighter tomorrow.”

“These students are the next generation of engineers and scientists — and we couldn’t be more proud of their exceptional achievements on a world stage,” he said in the prepared statement.

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