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Central graduate wins national design competition

July 16th, 2013 11:23 pm by Rick Wagner

Central graduate wins national design competition

Mary Williams took the first-place trophy for architectural CAD 2D (two-dimensional) design at the Technology Student Association 2013 nationals. Contributed photo.

BLOUNTVILLE  — Recent Sullivan Central High School graduate Mary Williams initially wasn’t supposed to go to a national computer-aided design competition because she came in third in the Tennessee competition.

And after she finished her work at nationals, she wasn’t thinking she’d do well at all. But it turns out she took the first- place trophy for architectural CAD 2D (two-dimensional) design at the Technology Student Association 2013 nationals in Orlando June 28 through July 2.

She also won a second-place trophy in architectural renovation at the national competition after placing first in that category in state competition, which was held in March in Chattanooga.

“He (the second-place state finisher in CAD) wasn’t able to go, so I could step up to take his spot,” Williams said. “I didn’t qualify for it except by default.”

In both competitions for CAD, she was given four hours to design a house or building based on information given to her in a purpose statement.

“The work I did (in CAD), I wasn’t really happy with it,” Williams said, although  the judges obviously were.

In the renovation competition, she took an existing house design and did renovations and additions to meet specifications. For that project, she had time before the actual competition dates to do the design and build a scale model. She took the design and model she did for state, which she began working on in December, and modified it for use at nationals.

All that work may sound like the foundation for a future architect, but Williams has chosen a slightly different path. She will begin classes this fall at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in civil engineering. She hopes to get a master’s degree in five years and become a civil engineer, focusing on structural engineering.

Williams, 18, is the daughter of Carl and Susan Williams of the Indian Springs community between Blountville and Kingsport.

“I like the more technical side rather than the art and design of it,” Williams said.

For state, she and other students raised money through donations to attend the competition in Chattanooga. Since she was the only Central student going to the national competition in Orlando, she and her family paid their own way but also made a vacation of the trip.

CAD teacher Aaron Flanary also traveled to Orlando for the competition using his own money,  but he also took his family for a vacation.

“My teacher is just awesome,” Williams said. “We’re probably the best CAD program in the state.”

Flanary said at least one student from Central has won first place in the state TSA competition over his eight years at Central as a teacher and that at least 15 have won first in state during that time. Flanary is the head adviser and drafting teacher.

“I have been blessed and fortunate to have had high quality students throughout the years,” Flanary said in an email.

He said nine Central students have placed at nationals,  but that Williams so far is the only first-place winner.

“A representative from Boeing sought out Mary after the contest to tell her that her CAD drawings were some of the best he had ever seen and that he couldn’t believe that a high school student could produce such in-depth and professional drawings,” Flanary said in an email. He said it was unprecedented for a student to compete and place in two national competitions. 

Williams is among a group of students at Central who competed in state and national career technical education programs.

Central had a first-place winner in cosmetology in a recent SkillsUSA competition, and Sullivan South High School had a national SkillsUSA winner in pin design.


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