2 Ridgewater Electrician students light up national competition
November 18, 2022
HUTCHINSON, MN – Ridgewater College Electrician students Justin Frick and Emma Becker are feeling pretty charged up after lighting up the competition November 4-5 at the IDEAL Elite Electricians National Championships in Tampa, Florida.
The event is a trades competition for student apprentices and professionals to celebrate the electrical trade. The competition highlights the trade as a rewarding, mentally-stimulating and in-demand career path that provides skills to keep communities thriving.
In the individual apprentice competition, Ridgewater’s Emma Becker, a second-year Electrician student from Glencoe, competed in the championships for the second consecutive year and made history this year. Last year she was simply honored to qualify to compete, but this year, she not only made it to the semi-final and final rounds but was a top-five placer among a field of 76 students/apprentices. She made history as the first female in the seven years of the competition to make it to the final round and received special recognition at the awards ceremony for her success.
The individual competition included a variety of tasks, including finish work like installing receptacles, switches, and lights, plus pipe bending, subpanel installation, basic prep work, and finally, in the last round, installation of a disconnect to feed a hot tub.
“It was really cool being able to make history as the first female in the finals,” Becker said, “but what was even cooler than that was the support I received from my fellow competitors and how happy they were for me. Being a female in a male-dominated field is honestly so much fun and very rewarding. A lot of people don’t really know what to expect from you, and once they see what you can do, they are just blown away.”
Ridgewater’s Justin Frick of Hutchinson also competed in the individual apprentice competition and advanced to the top 10 semi-finals but missed the finals cut. In a surprising new twist to the event, organizers randomly paired up semifinalists who didn’t advance to the finals with professional competitors for a team competition. Frick was paired with business owner Seth Agnew of Missouri and together they rose to the top to earn first-place trophies and a generous $10,000 prize to split.
“It felt pretty cool to earn a trophy,” Frick said. “We had to build a main breaker, connect a sub panel, and wire three receptacles and an exit sign,” he explained. “We were judged on quality and time, but a major part of the judging was how well we worked as a team. We worked really well together to get stuff done. I did everything to the best of my ability because if I fail, we both fail so there was a lot more pressure than individual competition.” He and his partner were the first ones to finish in about an hour. Frick said the experience renewed his spirit to work as a team.
“This is really a great honor and accomplishment for our students,” said Ridgewater Electrician instructor Brent Hillman of the Hutchinson campus. He commended Becker and Frick for their pre-event preparation and for the skills and passion they brought to the national stage. “Participating in experiences like these really helps students gain confidence.”
To qualify, students previously competed in summer expo events that included separate divisions, one for students/apprentices and one for licensed professional electricians. For the first time, Ridgewater hosted one of the qualifying events back in August. All Electrician students had the chance to practice and try to qualify for nationals by installing a receptacle, splicing wires, and testing for continuity, being judged on speed, workmanship and National Electrical Code compliance.
“Emma and Justin simply rise to the top when practicing and competing, but other students share their excitement and seem to be motivated by their success,” Hillman said.
Becker and Frick both apply what they are learning at Ridgewater and during competitions as they work at Kranz Electric in Gaylord.
“I was way more confident this year compared to last year because I know so much more,” Becker said. “Last year I really struggled with conduit bending, but this year I was more prepared for it.” She also felt more confident with the nonmetallic (NM) cable work.
“My family and friends were the biggest support I could have asked for,” she added. “I don’t think I could have made it as far as I did without them…. I felt unstoppable with all the support. There were even people who commented on the live stream that they were rooting for me – people I have never even met! That was the coolest part.”
To see the action from the 2022 event, watch on the CBS Sports Network on December 9 at 7 p.m. To watch just the awards ceremony, go the IDEAL’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/IDEALindustries/videos/682571420135262/