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March 15, 2012

Lighting up the debate: Prosser students build light system for LSI political debates

NEW ALBANY — Instead of using confusing or mixed signals for political candidates during debates, Leadership Southern Indiana can let them know when their time is up with the touch of a button.

And it’s all thanks to students at the Prosser Career Education Center.

Students in three departments at the school contributed to a lighting system the organization can use when it hosts its political debates.

Mark Eddy, executive director of Leadership Southern Indiana, said he was glad to give some local students a little hands-on experience with this project.

“We used three classes, but lord only knows how many high schools  were involved in the project,” Eddy said, noting students from more than 20 schools attend Prosser. “This was truly a community-built piece.”

John Dattilo, career pathways coordinator, said he was excited when LSI contacted Prosser about building the three-light system. He said in the fall of 2011, the two entities began preliminary design stages for the setup.

“Apparently, you can’t just go and buy one of these on eBay, you have to have one built,” Dattilo said. “When I went in to see the finished product, it was much nicer than what I expected.”

The sheet metal for the lighting system was custom-built by the heating, air conditioning and ventilation students. Dattilo said since they deal with metal ductwork, they were perfect for the task.

Electrical students handled all of the wiring for the system and building the switches for it. Students in auto collision powdered and clear coated the paint.

The system was presented to Eddy and Kent Lanum, chairman of LSI, in the electrical class taught by Mike Bauerla.

Bauerla said the entire project was built from the ground up by his students and others in the school.

“They had to design it from scratch,” Bauerla said. “We got pretty much a chicken-scratch design, then we had to figure out the electrical systems and put a price on the job.”

He said the work the students did is valued at about $300. He said his students were graded on the job.

“I think the students did an outstanding job on it,” Bauerla said. “They were able to think on this on their own and come up with their own design, and it works just fine.”

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