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Cougars' manufacturing excellence on display at SVMA Challenge

Updated: May 18

Guest Feature by Emmanuel Valadez, Pathway Lead, Manufacturing and Design (MaD) at John F. Kennedy High School


On May 4, 2024, local high school students showcased their manufacturing prowess at the 1st annual Sacramento Valley Manufacturing Alliance (SVMA) Manufacturing Challenge. Among the participants were five talented seniors from the Manufacturing and Design (MaD) program at Kennedy, who brought their A-game to this competition held at San Juan High School.



The challenge tasked students with designing and manufacturing their own unique interpretations of the classic game, Tic Tac Toe. While seemingly simple, this project allowed the young makers to flex their creative muscles and demonstrate the advanced manufacturing techniques they have honed over their four years in Kennedy's MaD program.


The morning kicked off with students engaging with judges, SVMA Members, area manufacturers, and members of the public, providing in-depth explanations of their design rationale and manufacturing processes – insights that went beyond the written documentation accompanying their projects.


The Kennedy High contenders did not disappoint, with each student unveiling a Tic Tac Toe set that highlighted their individual strengths and specialties:


  • Austin Tyler showcased a magnetic board with anodized game pieces, meticulously crafted with the program's 5-axis CNC machine to achieve perfect 90-degree corners.

  • Patton Zepp's board and pieces featured unique finishing passes for each element, a testament to his attention to detail.

  • Seth Moore's submission paid homage to the game's rich history, with his set chronicling the origins of Tic Tac Toe.

  • Sam Mohler demonstrated his mastery of the CNC lathe – a skill possessed by only a handful of students – by producing game pieces comprised entirely of turned components.

  • Jorge Rodriguez evoked memories of playgrounds past with his design, which utilized the program's 4-axis machining capabilities.


Throughout the event, the Kennedy High students exemplified the values of camaraderie and competition that are hallmarks of the MaD program. Their efforts did not go unnoticed, as the team walked away with an impressive four awards:


  • Best Overall: Austin Tyler 

  • Most Complicated Process: Jorge Rodriguez

  • Best Documentation: Seth Moore 

  • Mentor Award: Emmanuel Valadez


The success of Kennedy High's MaD program at the SVMA Manufacturing Challenge is a testament to the skill and dedication of these young makers. As they prepare to take their talents to the next level, the future of manufacturing in Sacramento is undoubtedly in good hands. We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to SVMA and everyone who made this weekend possible.

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