Tech Games Offer Fun Along With Real-World Experience

By BrieAnna Frank, Noah Delgado
April 28, 2014

It’s 2014 and it’s one of the best times to be in the technology industry.

The Avnet Tech Games give college students real-world experience in the tech field. This year’s games were held in Tempe on April 12. The event featured several competitions, like robot races and networking battles.

It’s not all fun and games, though. Students practice their skills for weeks, even months, leading up to the games.

Philip Howery competed in the Cisco Networking Battle.  It’s a challenge of skill and time management, to test a student’s ability to solve real-world issues on a computer network. Howery said his experience at the Tech Games will help him land a job, even in a slow economy.

“It’s easily something to be put on a resume [and] also helps to fortify what I know to make sure I just know it without having to have the textbooks nearby," he said.

While Howery used textbooks to help him prepare, game master Ellen Colton said students might not need to rely on them much. She said the engineering talent level has risen in recent years, and it’s all because these students were born at just the right time.

“These kids grew up in the era where they were building PCs when they were 3 years old. Three to five, they were playing with PCs, so they have this natural talent for it," she said. "They’ve been living with this their whole life.”

Colton said students in the computer-building challenge this year found nearly 90 percent of the errors in the system, compared to around 50 percent in past years.

Bill Johnson, a robotics teacher at Scottsdale Community College, also said students are becoming more skilled with technology. He mentors his own students, and then has them train younger students in robotics.  Johnson said the Tech Games are filled with great experience but getting a winning medal in the Robot Race can push students even further.

“Winning a competition gives them motivation to do more," he said.

And there was no shortage of winners this year. Thirty competitors from 11 different games took home top prizes in their categories.

It’s not all about winning medals or trophies, though. Each competitor was also able to market themselves to potential employers during Avnet’s Networking Hour.  It was a valuable experience for everyone, win or lose.