Eleven teams from five schools within the Hardin County and Elizabethtown school districts participated today in Altec’s Innovation Challenge, with Central Hardin High School taking home the top prize of $10,000. Bringing science, technology and engineering to life through a student-driven, project-based approach, students were asked to address real-world problems with an innovative approach that benefits the community. Students then presented their solution to a panel of judges.

The Innovation Challenge is guided by local teachers, Altec staff and community volunteers. The competition helps encourage students to develop work skills such as collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication. Chad Sarver, General Manager at Altec’s Elizabethtown manufacturing facility, indicated that these types of skills are extremely important to students entering today’s workforce. 

“No matter what career aspirations a student has, there are common foundational skills required to succeed in the job market,” said Sarver. “Our goal is to help students develop the confidence needed to think outside the box and anticipate questions, while also developing their technical knowledge.”

The first of its kind outside of Altec’s corporate location in Birmingham, AL, Altec Chairman and CEO Lee Styslinger III said the Innovation Challenge provides opportunities critical to the economy.  

“Altec is proud of our partnerships with teachers and volunteers in our communities to provide local students with the training and the opportunity to develop useful work skills in the critical areas of STEM - science, technology, engineering and math,” said Styslinger. “Businesses are dependent on this next generation of workers to develop these important skills to ensure the U.S. economy continues to grow and Americans continue to prosper from that growth”.

Winning the top prize, students from Central Hardin High School presented their solution to food insecurity with plans to build and maintain 21 raised garden beds. The beds will be used to grow various vegetables which will benefit several nonprofits in our community.

“Once we heard about this opportunity, the students immediately knew what project they wanted to tackle. They’ve worked extremely hard to prepare and we’re extraordinarily proud of all they accomplished,” said Derek Smith, agriculture advisor and faculty sponsor for the winning team.

“All of the students participating in today’s competition did an incredible job,” said Innovation Challenge judge and Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation President and COO, Rick Games. “From aquaponics to energy conservation, these students have come up with some outstanding solutions to problems that challenge our community.”

Schools from both districts were well represented, delivering projects that addressed energy conservation, pollution, school safety and more.

“The entire Hardin County Schools district is incredibly proud of our students who chose to participate in today’s Innovation Challenge and grateful for community partners like Altec,” said Teresa Morgan, superintendent of Hardin County Schools. “Through opportunities like this, we’re bridging the gap between classroom instruction and career readiness.”

Adding to the top prize, students from today’s winning team were also presented with a $1,000 scholarship to Elizabethtown Community and Technical College thanks to a generous donation from Bart Daily, senior consultant of business marketing strategy with Windstream.

More than 50 students participated in Altec’s Innovation Challenge. Educators interested in learning more about the 2020 Innovation Challenge may contact Katy Howlett at


Altec is a leading provider of products and services to the electric utility, tree care, lights and signs, telecommunications, and contractor markets. Delivering products and services in more than 100 countries throughout the world, Altec is the holding company for Altec Industries, Global Rental, Altec NUECO, Altec Worldwide, Altec Capital, Altec Supply, and Altec Ventures, LLC. Since 1929, Altec has been a company committed to excellence with products that consistently raise the bar through innovative product design, integrated safety features, and continued dedication to total customer satisfaction. For more, please visit 

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