NKY students win scholarships to Gateway through new UpTech program

Three Northern Kentucky high school students won scholarships to Gateway Community and Technical College through an innovative new UpTech program that challenges students to apply advanced manufacture learning through competition.

Eleven Kenton County high schoolers competed for the scholarship earlier this month. Competitors were sophomores and juniors who have been taking college courses while still in high school. The scholarship pays for up to 24 credit hours at Gateway.

UpTech is a new business informatics incubator launched by several Northern Kentucky institutions, including Northern Kentucky UniversityTri-Ede-zone and Vision 2015. The intense, six-month accelerator program includes $100,000 in funding.

This latest scholarship program reaches into the advanced manufacturing area, which is a strong source of Northern Kentucky job growth. Called mUpTech, the program seeks out area talent at the high school level, and encourages learning through competition and college aid.

"mUpTech, was born out of our region’s need to stimulate interest and innovation in our manufacturing industry,” says UpTech co-founder Casey Barach. “Over the last 12 years, over 300 companies have used the e-zone, and only three were in the manufacturing industry.”

This year, all competing students came from the newly developed Kenton County School District’s Academy of Innovation and Technology. The high school houses six academics that focus on real world learning, including biomedical sciences, engineering and high performance production technology.

As part of their learning, academy students must complete and present a project related to their learning. Divided into two-person teams (one student competed alone), students from the high performance production technology academy presented their projects and participated in the mUpTech competition. It was held at the Gateway Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

Winners were juniors Matt Flanagan and Austin Ernst, who developed a speedy tractor lift, and sophomore Wendy Webster, who created a window heater.

"Their families were really floored," says Academy director Francis O'Hara. "This will be a life-changing experience for them."

mUpTech’s partners include Gateway Community and Technical College, Tri-ED, ezone, Vision 2015, UpTech and Duke Energy Foundation. Plans in the next year are to expand the program into Boone and Campbell counties, and to include more of the region's advanced manufacturing business community in judging, Barach says.

By Feoshia H. Davis
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