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BSC students win, place in regional automation competition

Published: May 03 2019
BSC students win, place in regional automation competition - Photo
Seventeen students in the Instrumentation & Control program at Bismarck State College (BSC) took part in a regional automation skills competition, with teams taking first, third, fifth, sixth, and seventh place.  All but one of the participating students are in their second year of the associate degree program.

The regional competition was held by the International Society of Automation (ISA) at a Novaspect process facility in Chanhassen, Minnesota on April 26.  Students from Joliette Junior College, Northwest Iowa Community College, and North Dakota State College of Science also took part in the all-day event.

“It was interesting,” says Zac Benz, a member of the first-place team, says of the competition.  “There were things that, even though we’ve been in this program, we haven’t seen yet.”

Teams took part in five hands-on challenges.  Three of the challenges were developed by vendors using their equipment, and two challenges were created by the ISA.  The winner of the vendor challenges and the winner of the ISA challenges face off in a head-to-head quiz bowl to determine the overall winner.

“The whole scope of it was problem solving,” says James Frojen, who was also part of the first-place team.  “There were always those ah-ha moments when you figured out what was next.”

“It was challenging because it is timed,” says Caitlyn Ell, who was part of the sixth-place team.
Ell and Frojen both took part in the competition during their first year at BSC as well.  They say taking part in the competition has helped them build their skills as well as their resume.

“There’s a lot of people in the industry you can have a conversation with,” Frojen says.

Before the competition, students were able to visit an Emerson facility near Minneapolis and take part in several training exercises. Students say the tour helped them understand how the individual components they work with in a classroom setting fit together in a functioning process.

“It helps seeing how each thing works in a different way and how it can tie together,” says Ell.
They say the experience helped them realize just how much they’ve learned in class and how it will apply in their careers after graduation.

“It confirms that we’ve been learning more than we thought we had,” says Benz.

Benz, Ell and Frojen have all accepted employment offers and will begin their careers after graduating on May 10.  Benz and Frojen will be working for Kinder Morgan at different facilities near Watford City, and Ell will join Enable Midstream in Tioga.

On-campus seats in the Instrumentation & Control program are still available for students beginning in Fall 2019.  The program boasts job placement rates approaching 100%.