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Students living out Ruda's legacy




What a way to carry on a legacy.

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What a way to carry on a legacy.

Instructors of students who won the top awards at Friday's Western Kansas Technology Education Fair at Fort Hays State University are former students of Fred Ruda.

One of those was Peter Kern, the industrial technology teacher at Kiowa County High School in Greensburg. And one of his students is sophomore Hannah Brown, the recipient of the first Fred Ruda Legacy Award given at the event.

Ruda, a long-time professor of technology studies at Fort Hays, died in a car accident last spring, just a few weeks before the 2012 technology fair for junior high and high school programs.

Organizers of the fair presented a plaque with a cast of Ruda's likeness on it to his wife, Sherrill, at last year's fair and said in future years the award would go to a project or program instructors feel left the biggest impact on that particular fair.

Earning that honor this year was a china cabinet made by Brown, who also won last year's top freshman award for her walnut dining room table.

Students being taught by former Ruda students were honored up and down the line at the event that features projects in woodworking, metals, drafting and arts and crafts. Students also get the chance to participate in several technology competitions.

The power and energy award went to Hays High School senior Joseph Pfeifer for his electric car. His teacher is Chris Dinkel.

The best multi-pupil project was from Greensburg.

The top communication award went to Brian Buckner from Southeast of Saline High School in Gypsum (teacher Eric Deneault), and the school voted to have made the most progress from the year before was Oberlin-Decatur Community (teacher Josh Williby). Winning the production award was Hoxie senior Steven Dible (teacher Randy Kaufman).

Dinkel, Deneault, Williby and Kaufman all took classes from Ruda at Fort Hays, as did instructors of several other students who won some of the on-site technology challenge competitions.

"In 40 years, (Ruda) touched a lot of young men's and young women's lives," said Kim Stewart, another FHSU graduate who now is interim chair of the Institute of Applied Technology at Fort Hays. "And they continue to reciprocate that with their students."

An area instructor who Stewart said embodies Ruda's principles is Chris Broeckelman, who teaches students in both the high school program at Natoma (17 students) and the junior high program at Paradise (15 students). Natoma and Paradise swept the high school and middle school communication competition Friday.

"Chris does an outstanding job of not only promoting his program within his school but within the community as well," Stewart said. "You can see that in the number of students that take his classes."

"And," Stewart said, "there were several community people from Natoma at the fair today looking at projects."

Others winning top prizes locally besides Hays High's Pfeifer were eighth-graders Karic Weese and Taden Zimmerman from Hays Middle School, who finished first and second in the middle school division of the metric 500 competition. Their instructors are Todd Taylor, who has a master's from FHSU, and Brad Moritz, who is pursuing a master's degree at Fort Hays.