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Mar 29, 2023

Our conversation for the Valley Business Today featured Shayla Rickard, Business Retention Manager for Frederick County Economic Development Authority, and Carolyn Perry, Human Resources Manager for ZM Sheet Metal.

Shayla gave details for the upcoming Widget Cup and talked about why partnerships with businesses such as ZM Sheet Metal are an important part of growing the workforce in Frederick County. Carolyn told us a bit about ZM Sheet Metal and why participating in this event is a key part of their community involvement. Learn more about ZM Sheet Metal here: 

The 2023 Widget Cup® Competition will be held on Friday, April 21, 2023, at Millbrook High School.  Participating students solve a real-life business problem for a local employer by using skills acquired through Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses. 

Established in 2015, the Frederick County EDA's regional Widget Cup® event is an annual competition for high school teams drawn from students attending public schools in Frederick County, Clarke County, and Winchester, Virginia.

Each year, the EDA collaborates with teachers at the area's five high schools to field a competitive team. Teams are comprised of eight students who have demonstrated competencies in engineering, construction, welding, electricity, audio/visual equipment, and oral presentation. 

Over the course of a full day of competition, the Widget Cup teams will design and build a product for a local business client who has expressed a real need for an object, tool, or structure. The project is not announced until the day of the event. Each team is provided the same starting materials. The students work together to problem-solve, design, and build a functioning device that the business client will use in their day-to-day operations.  

Using science, math, technology, and career trades skills, the student teams have one hour to create the design of their custom “widget.” Then the team must build a fully functioning prototype. Projects for client participants in past years have included storage systems, workbenches, and gates for the Glen Burnie Gardens at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. 

Throughout the day, the teams are judged by industry professionals using an extensive rubric. The students should be prepared to exemplify teamwork, leadership, and technical skill, among other qualities employers are seeking. 

At the conclusion of the day’s event, the Widget Cup trophy, designed and manufactured by local metal fabricator Fabritek/Winchester Tool, is presented to the winning team. The trophy will remain on display at the winner's school until the next year's event. Last year (2022) the winner was Clarke County High School.

Learn more about The Widget Cup here: