2 Ridgewater Auto Body Students Headed to SkillsUSA Nationals
April 20, 2022
WILLMAR and HUTCHINSON, MN – For the first time in college history, Ridgewater College will have two Auto Body Collision students competing in the SkillsUSA national competition this summer in Atlanta, GA.
SkillsUSA is a national career and technical student organization that challenges secondary and post-secondary students to test their skills in trade, technical and skilled service occupations.
SkillsUSA – Auto Body Collision Repair
Warrior Brad Bakker of Renville earned first-place state champion honors in both the Collision Repair and Refinishing categories in the Minnesota Autobody Collision Repair SkillsUSA Competition on Sat., April 9 at Dakota County Technical College. Classmate Tanner Friesen of Howard Lake earned a close second place in Collision Repair.
Bakker and Friesen, along with classmates Addison Olness (Lowry) and Gavin Larson (Benson), competed with approximately 17 other students from five colleges.
During the event, contestants demonstrated job skills based on a task list outlined by the National Institute for Automotive Excellence (ASE) and the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). Contestants progressed through a series of workstations that assess skills in the following areas: surface preparation, spray gun operation, paint mixing, matching and applying, solving paint applications problems, determining finish defects, causes and cures, utilizing safety precautions, metal straightening, welding, plastic repair and structural analysis.
Each competitor also completed an interview, a written estimate and an ASE written exam. Judging then included the overall appearance of the finished products, speed and proper safety practices
“After COVID stopped in-person competition for two years, we were happy to be back to SkillsUSA with our students demonstrating their skills,” said Ridgewater instructor Joe Wambeke. “Both Brad and Tanner handle pressure very well.” He looks forward to seeing how they do at nationals. “Competing and doing well definitely gives students a boost of confidence when they go out on the job. I can see it already.”
Bakker is just the college’s second two-event champion that Wambeke recalls from his program. The last one was Dylan Ahrndt in 2017, who went on to become the Auto Body Refinishing national champion.
“I was not surprised at Brad’s success,” Wambeke said. “He’s dedicated to the program and to the industry.” He is already working at Quisberg Collision & Glass in Pennock and plans to continue there after graduation.
Bakker said he has been thankful for his experiences at Ridgewater that have led him to this competitive success. “I feel my education helped prepare me for the state skills competition and I felt confident going into it,” he said. “It was fun to compete against other students in the state of Minnesota.”
The 2022 national SkillsUSA Auto Body Repair and Refinishing competition will be in Atlanta, GA., June 20-24. At the national level, students can only compete in one of the categories, so Bakker will compete in Refinishing and Friesen will compete in the Auto Body Repair.
SkillsUSA – Welding
Five Ridgewater Welding students also competed in their trades within SkillsUSA on Sat., April 9 at Anoka Technical College.
Cody Sievert of Gibbon earned second place for individual welding among 12 Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) students. He represented both Ridgewater College and Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop High School.
Andrew Adema of Winthrop placed third among the 10 college individual welders.
Other Ridgewater competitors included Austin Otto (Lester Prairie) in the PSEO division and in the college division were Kyle Roth (Waconia) and John Daniels (Howard Lake).
Individual welders competed in six different disciplines, including Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) stick welding with two different electrodes, Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) MIG welding with solid and flux-cored wires, Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) TIG welding with aluminum, and Oxy-Fuel Cutting (OFC) torch cutting.
For each process, students received a blueprint to interpret correctly and then create the weldment. In addition, contestants took a welding knowledge test and submitted resumes.
For more information about Ridgewater Auto Body or Welding, go to www.ridgewater.edu/academics.