Best Place to See Tech Geeks in Action 2012 | Avnet Tech Games | Sports & Recreation | Phoenix

Pressure has a way of bringing out the best in people. Take Scottsdale Community College engineering students Trung Dinh and Dmitri Mihailov, for instance, whose abilities to work under the gun helped them reign supreme at this year's Avnet Tech Games. The pair had five hours to design, assemble, and program a wheeled robot out of parts harvested from a Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 set and race it through a complex obstacle course faster than their opponents. Dinh and Mihailov succeeded, beating out a half-dozen teams from other post-secondary schools and winning $2,000 for school. Teaching college students from tech-minded fields how to thrive under pressure and utilize their skills in real-life situations are the goals of the games, which are thrown annually at the University of Advancing Technology and award scholarship money as prizes. Seven different challenges are staged, including such trying tasks as constructing and tweaking a PC to have the fastest processing speed possible, building a solar-powered water pump from scratch, and assembling a data network using patch cables. (Virtual competitions involving crafting cell phone apps and other digital-oriented contests are held online and are open to students across the country.) Recruiters from Microsoft, Cisco, and other tech firms also attend, which adds to the intense atmosphere, because no one wants to pull an epic fail in front of a future employer. Luckily, no one's ever shorted out any electronics with flop sweat.

Taking a girl out to a fancy dinner doesn't mean you're going to make it to home base, and buying a lottery ticket doesn't mean you're guaranteed to win millions, but if there is one thing out there that's a sure win — even if your prize is just a couple of tasty fish — is fishing on a fish farm.

It's not real fishing by any stretch of the imagination, but if you're the impatient type who loves freshly caught rainbow fish, then a stop at this Oak Creek Canyon fish farm can't be missed. Buy your bait, grab a bamboo pole, find your spot and wait for the fish to start biting. It is like shooting fish in a barrel (minus the gun and all the messiness). Once you have your catch for the day, a member of the trout farm staff will clean your Ncorhynchus mykiss and put it on ice to take home, or you can buy a grill kit and cook your catch right at the farm.

For several weeks in both the spring and fall, make a detour off the trails at the Desert Botanical Garden and find yourself surrounded by butterflies. In fall, the assortment is rather limited, but still stunning, as you'll hang with black and orange monarchs. Spring brings more color. Either way, the humid, airy Marshall Butterfly Pavilion is paradise for both people and butterflies. When you leave, a garden volunteer will check you for hitchhikers.

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