SkillsUSA contest draws construction students

Approximately 4,600 high school and college students competed in 80 hands-on skill and leadership contests at the SkillsUSA National Championship Competition held in Kansas City, Mo., in June. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry professionals.

More than 30 student teams of four built full-size bathrooms for the “TeamWorks” contest sponsored by Bosch Power Tools and Stanley Tools. Each team was given a blueprint and had about a 12-foot-by-12-foot space to build their bathroom. They received points for a written and oral presentation, timeliness of work, following safety procedures and management in the ordering and inventory of tools and materials. Jason Feldner, public relations manager for Bosch, said students weren’t allowed to speak to their coaches and advisors during the three-day event.

First-place winners Caldwell County Career Center in North Carolina (high school) and North Central Kansas Technical College took home prize packs full of tools and gear. Rick Hagny, masonry instructor at the technical college, said it was his team’s third gold medal victory out of the five years the school has competed. The team prepared for nine months.

“One of the criteria is teamwork,” he said, “and they did very, very well.”

Paul Larson, the carpenter for the group, said he thought the team did well, considering most of the members hadn’t worked together until the actual competition. “The hardest part was getting everything organized the first night,” he said. “We all just showed up.”

Frederick County Career and Technical Center, a high school in Maryland, and Manatee Technical Institute in Florida were silver medalists. Bronze medalists were from high school Miami Valley CTC in Ohio and Salt Lake Community College in Utah.

According to SkillsUSA, the philosophy of the championships is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to keep training relevant to employers’ needs. SkillsUSA’s multi-million dollar competition occupies a space equal to 11 football fields.

Bosch has supported trade-oriented education in various capacities for several years. This year, it donated more than $100,000 to the SkillsUSA competition.