Jan 20, 2024

Cob and Cog — everything from drones to combines

Wind was a big factor, but it still took Terre Haute South Vigo student Ayden Napier just 26 seconds to maneuver the drone through two hula hoops and around a bucket before landing it.

Jonathan Fulk, a sophomore at North Central High School, reacts to the distance he achieved with his team's catapult during the Cob & Cog agriculture + engineering challenge on Friday at the Ivy Tech Community College south campus.

Napier was one of more than 500 students from 17 high schools participating in Ivy Tech’s Cob & Cog, an annual agriculture and engineering competition.

The event included 21 different challenges at which teams of three students compete and culminated with a lively quiz bowl competition.

Napier participated in an outdoor drone competition Friday, with students using an iPad and a flight control app to fly the drones through a course. They had up to two minutes to do so.

“It’s kind of a test of how well they can fly a drone,” said Michael Mauntel, Ivy Tech program chair for precision ag technology. Drone technology is a big part of the agriculture industry.

Cob and Cog was hosted by Ivy Tech’s School of Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, and Applied Science and aims to prepare students for careers in agriculture and engineering.

The event featured a variety of competitions that tested students’ skills in areas including livestock judging, robotics, GPS/GIS mapping and more.

Competitions carried such titles as “Build them, crush them,” “Let the volts be with you” and “Power tool drag race.”

High school students use the back of a Case Trident 5550 liquid/dry combination applicator to fill out their forms for the "Machinery Inspection" challenge on Friday during the Cob & Cog agriculture + engineering challenge at the Ivy Tech Community College south campus.

Cob and Cog is a recruitment event for Ivy Tech engineering and agricultural programs, said Larry Pritchett, a department chair.

“This is a big deal,” he said, as hundreds of students gathered in the college’s Tech Lab located in the Vigo County Industrial Park.

The event has two main goals. “We’d like students to come here” as they pursue higher education, and the college wants students to participate in competition that shows learning can be fun, Pritchett said.

Another competition involved machinery inspection using a Case IH combine, Case IH sprayer and and a Kinze planter.

Joe Shouse, Ivy Tech diesel instructor, had different parts of the equipment labeled; students had to identify them “and tell me if they were good or not good.”

North Vermillion High School freshman Avery Swingle looks through the underside of a JI case Trident 5550 liquid/dry combination applicator during the “Machinery Inspection” challenge Friday during the Cob & Cog agriculture + engineering challenge at the Ivy Tech Community College south campus.

Among the participants was Jeramiah Kennett, a student at Shakamak High School. He works for his parents at a machinery shop, “so I’m kind of used to a lot of this. It kind of fit in to what I’m best at,” he said, as he moved around the combine.

Also participating in machinery inspection were Waylon Lomax and Avery Swingle, both students at North Vermillion High School.

They were inspecting hydraulic equipment in front of the Case IH combine. Lomax said he’s more familiar with John Deere equipment.

It was Lomax’ second year to attend Cob and Cog. His career goals include either agriculture or construction.

Both Lomax and Swingle said they were enjoying the competition.

In one of the events called “balancing act,” participants were tasked with creating the “tallest free-standing tower out of plastic drinking straws that will support the weight of a tennis ball.”

Materials included a paper plate base, straws, masking tape and hot glue gun.

Among the participants in “balancing act” was a team consisting of Brooke Rowe, Makayla Siddons and Breanna Siddons of Cloverdale High School.

Cob and Cog was made possible by a $10,000 Duke Energy Foundation grant.

“It’s a great way to get students excited about education and career opportunities in these fields,” said Rick Burger, Duke Energy’s district manager. “By combining these two disciplines (agriculture and engineering), we are supporting an ever-growing need for innovation, which is so important for our region.”

The event had several other sponsors.

To see a full list of contest winners, visit

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at [email protected] Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue

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