High school students test engineering skills at ECU

Dr. David White, dean of the College of Technology and Computer Science, and associate professor and TEAMS coordinator Dr. Dave Batts stand with the winners of the TEAMS high school competition hosted Friday, Feb. 24 at ECU. The junior varsity squad from Richlands High School took first prize with the most correct answers overall. (Contributed photo)

Nearly 75 high school students from eastern North Carolina crunched numbers and engaged in creative thinking exercises Friday, Feb. 24 during a national competition hosted at East Carolina University.

The Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science (TEAMS) program is an annual event challenging high school students to work collaboratively and apply their math and science knowledge in practical, creative ways to solve real engineering challenges. The one-day competitions take place at more than 100 locations between Feb. 13 and March 12 and involve more than 10,000 students vying for local, state, and national rankings and awards. 

This was the fourth consecutive year ECU’s College of Technology and Computer Science hosted TEAMS competitors. Participants were grouped into nine teams from Winterville’s South Central High School; Richlands High School; and Bertie Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math High School of Windsor. 

The annual TEAMS competition is a Test of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science capabilities. (Logo images courtesy of the Technology Student Association).

Students answered 80 multiple choice questions over a 90-minute period, followed by four open-ended challenges during a second 90-minute time frame. The theme this year – which participating teams knew in advance – was “Engineering Healthier Lives,” which focused on engineering applications in health care and medicine. 

“It’s not a lot of hands-on playing with robots,” said Dr. David Batts, associate professor in the Department of Technology Systems and TEAMS competition coordinator. “It’s applying knowledge to real-life scenarios.”

The junior varsity squad from Richlands took home first prize Friday. Questions vary in difficulty for varsity and junior varsity teams, but the Richlands group had the most correct answers overall, Batts said.

After racking their brains for the first half of the day, members of the college’s Student Leadership Advisory Council led visiting students on tours of Technology and Computer Science labs and the larger campus. The high schoolers were invited to ask questions about college life, classes and departments, and how majors match up with various career paths.

“A lot of students in eastern North Carolina will be first generation college students,” Batts said. “Sometimes this is the first opportunity they have gotten to be on a college campus and this shows that we’re open and that faculty and staff really work with the students.”

Batts said there is a national push to recruit students into STEM fields, and that programs like TEAMS help “build awareness of STEM degrees and careers…throughout the United States and especially in rural areas.”

For more information about the Technology Student Association’s TEAMS competitions, visit

The TEAMS competition is organized through the Technology Student Organization.