ASHLAND, Ky. — Another class of Ashland Middle School STEM students has advanced to the national level in a technology competition, winning their school thousands of dollars worth of high-tech equipment.

The students, who designed and built a device to help mobility-impaired students escape from a multi-story building in an emergency, have been named national finalists in the annual Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest.

It is the second time AMS students have gotten to the national level.

The feat wins $50,000 dollars worth of technology hardware for the school, and a contingent of students will travel to New York City to pitch their project to a panel of judges. The judges will choose five national winners, each of which will win $100,000 worth of additional technology.

The students developed the device, which looks like a lightly-padded seat with a tri-wheel assembly on each side that is capable of negotiating stairs, over a period of months during which they tested several designs, according to team member Samuel Tibbitts, an eighth-grader.

The 18-member student team narrowed the field from five to three, then recruited a panel of experts to help them zero in on a final choice. The panel included a physical therapist, a parent of a handicapped child, and a member of the Marathon Petroleum rescue team, Samuel said. That got them down to two, and Marathon helped them choose the final design, he said.