Technical education is alive and well in America and a growing number of students are learning skilled trades by ‘doing’. These hands-on experiences are leading to high-paying careers in many different fields. For those that want to showcase their technical aptitude before they enter a career, there is SkillsUSA.
Seven Vermont Tech students and recent graduates recently attended the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC). The conference ran from Tuesday, June 26th to Friday June 29th in Louisville, Kentucky.
SkillsUSA is a national program made up of both secondary and post-secondary students, teachers, and industry leaders who want to ensure a successful future for America’s skilled workforce. The SkillsUSA NLSC is a weeklong event that showcases the best technical education students in the nation in about 100 separate competitions. Students first participate in regional conferences at the state level. Achieving gold medals in these local competitions guarantees a spot for that competitor at the NLSC. The events themselves have a variety of focus areas. Nursing, video game production, CNC turning, robotics, welding, and team construction projects were just a few.
This is the second year Vermont Tech has participated in the SkillsUSA NLSC and we were represented in four separate events, all related to manufacturing. Manny Aretakis, Casey Baroffio, and Mark Turco Jr. (all graduates of the class of 2018) placed third in the nation in the Automated Manufacturing challenge and took home bronze medals. Their task was to recreate a die from a synthetic material using the CAD software SolidWorks and a CNC machine.
Deema AL Namee of South Burlington (also class of 2018) and current student Aric Donerkiel of Colchester took home the silver medal for the Additive Manufacturing Competition. The pair were instructed to design and print a prosthetic thumb that could assist someone with a disability in playing video games. View the video from SkillsUSA Sponsor, Stratasys below.
Student Caleb White of Chester placed 6th in the nation in Technical Drafting, which involved a written test and SolidWorks-based design challenge.
Another recent graduate, Wes McEntee, participated in the Job Skills Demonstration competition and scored above the 90th percentile in his event. Wes demonstrated the minimum required personal protective equipment for safe welding.
The students were accompanied and mentored by Mechanical Engineering professor, Christopher Gray, who is celebrating his 30th year as a member of SkillsUSA. Vermont Tech has 20 programs that align directly with SkillsUSA competitions, and Gray predicts that Vermont Tech’s presence at SkillsUSA will only grow.
Vermont Tech was the host site for the SkillsUSA State conferences in 2004 and 2005 and continues to host the state competitions for Nursing and some Manufacturing events.