Texas Students Go Fishing for STEM Success at 2019 State STEM Competition


(Huntsville, TX) – How does a whiffle ball lead to a career in engineering? In Huntsville, Texas, aspiring engineers faced a design challenge created by engineers from ConocoPhillips. Based on real-life situations in which wellbores are blocked by material known as “fish,” the challenge was part of the 34th annual State STEM Competition, sponsored by ConocoPhillips and held at the Forest Glen Camp in Huntsville, Texas. Students used paper clips, clay, and other materials to explore methods for removing wellbore blockages.

The State STEM Competition is an annual event organized by the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering (TAME), a statewide non-profit organization committed to preparing Texas students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). TAME's annual State STEM Competition is the focus of a year of intense preparation for Texas students in TAME clubs around the state. TAME students from grades 6-12 qualified to attend the event at one of 14 Divisional STEM Competitions. View results from the 2019 Divisional STEM Competitions.

This year’s competition brought 296 Texas students to Huntsville to test their skills in math, science, and engineering. After spending the morning taking individual math and science tests, students from different ages and different hometowns came together in teams to practice their collaborative problem solving skills over the Engineering Design Challenge. Switch Energy Alliance offered interactive film-based workshops about the world of energy to students, educators, and volunteers at the event. 

“The best part for me is that I get to use my power,” said Gabriella Salinas, a student from BL Garza Middle School in TAME's Valley Chapter who won 2nd place in 8th Grade Science. “I get to be in charge of things, I get to use my smarts. My competitive side comes out, which I really like.”

Hailing from Nocona Middle School in Wichita Falls, 575 miles north of Gabriella’s school, eighth grader Dawn Ballard said “TAME is awesome because you get to meet people from different cities, from north Texas, south Texas, east, west. You learn new stuff—science and math and engineering. You get to try really cool engineering processes, like building oil rigs and rockets.” Dawn won 6th place in the Engineering Design Challenge with a team that included six students from Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, West Texas, Wichita Falls, and the Valley.

The top six students in each test and the top six teams in the Engineering Design Challenge were recognized with awards and medals. In addition, three teams received special awards for creativity, teamwork, and innovation. The Texas Board of Professional Engineers, sponsored the Innovation Award.

Han Nguyen, a sophomore from Kerr High School in TAME’s Gulf Coast (Houston) Chapter, designed the winning artwork for the event shirts and programs with the theme “Powering Civilization.” Laura Thompson, an 11th grader from the Science and Engineering Magnet at Townview Center in TAME's Dallas Chapter won first place in the Hashtag Contest with #CosmicCoder, featured on stickers for giveaways at the event.

TAME's Outstanding Senior Award, sponsored by Shell Oil Company, was presented to Brie Pierce of the Winnsboro Engineering Club in TAME’s East Texas Chapter. Brie plans to attend Northeast Texas Community College and pursue a degree in Neuropsychology.

The STEM Competitions, part of TAME’s multi-pronged STEM engagement strategy, celebrate diversity and achievement in STEM and encourage the development of a peer and mentor network. Thanks to the support of a number of sponsors, gratefully acknowledged below, the events are offered free of charge to all participants.

For more awards, photos, statistics, and stories from the competition, visit

The 2019 State STEM Competition was sponsored by the following organizations.

Presenting Sponsor:



Corporate & Foundation Sponsors:

3MAmerican Society of Civil Engineers Texas ChapterArconic FoundationBoeingChevronChevron PhillipsEasley Enterprises of Texas, Inc.Emerson Process ManagementHalliburtonKomatsu Mining CorporationLockheed Martin AeronauticsMarathon Oil, Mary & Steve De Leon, National InstrumentsSan Antonio Area FoundationSilicon LabsShell Oil CompanySwitch Energy AllianceTexas Board of Professional EngineersTexas InstrumentsWhataburger

University Partners:

Angelo State UniversityLamar UniversityLeTourneau UniversityMidwestern State UniversityOdessa CollegeSt. Philip's CollegeTarrant County CollegeTexas A&M UniversityTexas Tech UniversityUniversity of HoustonUniversity of Texas at AustinUniversity of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Thank you for all you do to promote diversity in STEM careers! Join these organizations in making a difference on our Get Involved page.

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