Great Gorilla Games planned for Tuesday

  Friday, March 30, 2018 2:00 AM
  Science and Technology, News, People and Society

Pittsburg, KS

Great Gorilla Games planned for Tuesday

The 5th Annual Great Gorilla Games will kick off at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, with more than 400 students from 16 schools fanning out across the John Lance Arena in the Weede Physical Educational Buliding to compete in 42 different STEM-related events.

The day-long event is one of the largest technology-related competitions in the region, pitting teams in competitions like designing and building an autonomous robot, mass producing miniature cars on an assembly line, and constructing rubber-band-powered dragsters and airplanes. It also includes more traditional industrial arts such as metalworking, woodworking, and CAD. 

Founded by the late Mike Neden, an associate professor in Technology and Workforce Learning, the Gorilla Games have continued under the direction of Andy Klenke. 

"Mike always thought big," said Klenke of his former colleague, Neden, who died July 4, 2016. "He thought if you're going to do it, go big or go home. This is part of his legacy, and I wanted to carry it on. He was all about students. He was all about STEM learning. This is a nice testament of what we're capable of." 

The event serves as both a recruiting tool for Pittsburg State and a service activity, Klenke said. 

"The more times you get a student on campus, the more comfortable they become – they have a tie to the university," Klenke said. "But we also see it as a service. It provides high school students the chance to come compete against other schools in STEM and measure up against them. And it allows teachers a great STEM event for their classes at not a lot of cost. Ultimately it benefits them whether they come here to school or not." 

Schools registered to attend include Joplin, Liberal, and Adrian, Missouri; Pittsburg, Independence, Riverton, Southeast, Frontenac, Columbus, St. Paul, Neosho County, Lawrence, Eudora, and Blue Valley, Kansas; and Bergman, Arkansas. 

Approximately 20 Pittsburg State technology education students have helped prepare for the event and will help to staff it on Tuesday. Volunteers from other departments across campus, including faculty, staff, and students, will help provide manpower, as well. Students from Graphics & Imaging Technologies have designed logos and t-shirts, as well as completed much of the printing for the event as part of their graphics classes.  

Representatives from sponsoring companies also will assist, including Watco Companies, Home Depot, Depco, and Pitsco. The U.S. Army also is a sponsor and will have on site Tuesday the latest asset to the Mission Support Battalion's fleet: the Army's Mobile Usability Lab Exhibit, or MULE. The MULE is an 18-wheel tractor trailer that is self-contained and climate controlled. It includes state-of-the-art technology that includes a Humvee simulator, an augmented reality sand table, an Occulus Rift system, a distracted driver system, and more. 

"This isn't a small undertaking — we've been working on it for months and will be setting up from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday — but it's worth it when the kids walk through the door for the first time and say 'Wow!' You did all this for us?' And then you see them jump in and get busy," Klenke said.

Learn more about the Gorilla Games at

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