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Kettle Run grad places fourth in national tech competition

Friday, Jul. 18 | By Fauquier Times Staff
Joey Baier on stage awaiting the competition results.
Courtesy Photo
Recent Kettle Run High School graduate Joey Baier, a member of his school’s Technology Student Association, placed fourth in the nation in the 3D computer-aided design (CAD) competition at the TSA National Convention June 27-July 1 in Washington, DC. Joey qualified for nationals by taking first place in the state in early May.

In the 3D CAD engineering competition, competitors have to create a 3D computer model of a machine part, tool or device that is assigned at the time of the competition.

“We came in and set up our computers, and what they gave us was a screw-less vice to design in 3D CAD in four hours,” Joey said of the on-the-spot assignment.

The four hours allotted for the task was “actually a decent amount of time – a time that made it worth competing with,” said Joey (pictured far right). “If you focused and were good at it, four hours was enough time.”

For Joey, however, the competition turned out to be the best of times and the worst of times. After working so long and hard to achieve all that he had to reach nationals as his state’s representative, he had a computer freeze only an hour into the competition.

A pretty even-keeled young man, Joey rolled with the punches.

“You bring your own equipment, so if something happens, it’s just tough luck,” he said. “I just moved on and started doing what I thought would give me the most points.” He said he knew at this point “what’s done is done.”

Bill Davidson, Joey’s teacher and one of two TSA faculty advisors at Kettle Run (along with Karen Frye), said of the mishap, “I can only imagine how well he would have done without the computer glitch.”

In the end Joey did better than he thought he would, all things considered.

“With my computer problems, I thought I’d be way out of the top 10,” Joey said. “I did well for what happened, but it’s still bittersweet because if I hadn’t had computer problems, I might have done better, and this was my final chance. It was not a win, but still good – Fourth in the nation? I’ll take that.”

Joey (pictured on stage at the convention, second from right) was very appreciative of the opportunity to compete at the TSA national convention and expressed his gratitude to Mr. Davidson, Ms. Frye, and to his parents – “for helping me finally get there.” He especially enjoyed meeting so many people from different places. He also relished the challenge. “The competition was tough; it was what you’d expect at a national competition. It was overall a good experience,” he said.

Next month Joey will head to Virginia Tech where his goal is to become an engineer.

“I like the freedom of engineering,” a freedom he discovered when he took his first introduction to technology course with Mr. Davidson back in his freshman year. “I liked being able to do what I want on my own and to be able to create things,” Joey said.

Mr. Davidson recognized Joey’s creativity and need for challenge right away.

“Since Joey was a freshman, he has just had a natural talent toward engineering. He got not days but weeks ahead on his assignments without me needing to teach him anything,” he said. “I had to make up more challenging tasks for him to complete even as a freshman.”

Mr. Davison said nothing is going to stop Joey from reaching his goal of becoming an engineer.

“In his freshman year I let him borrow the most advanced book that I have so he could practice and learn on his own at home. He was doing advanced modeling and complex assemblies. He started designing on his own, and I only needed to hone his skills slightly. He just keeps chipping away getting better and better.”

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