Welders, electricians and auto body techs, oh my! Ridgewater College students put their skills to the test recently at the annual collegiate SkillsUSA-Minnesota annual Leadership and Skills Conference in the Twin Cities at multiple locations on March 30-April 2, bringing home one team gold medal and two individual gold medals.
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. More than 275 students competed in 50-plus events.
Four of seven competing Ridgewater Welding students came home as champions in the SkillsUSA team Welding Fabrication and Individual Welding categories.
In the Welding Fabrication team event, gold-medal honors went to Ridgewater’s John Daniels (Delano), Kyle Roth (Waconia), and Sam Hershley (Buffalo).
“The challenge for the contest this year was that we weren’t given the idea for the project or the blueprints until a day before the competition,” explained Welding instructor John Travis. “Our team spent most of the day prior to the competition composing a workflow plan, dividing tasks, and entering critical information to finish the blueprints. On competition day, they stuck with the plan, worked well as a team for the six hours, and were able to finish a great weld table project on time to win the competition.”
Ridgewater’s John Gosswiller, second-year student from Cokato, became the gold medal champion for the individual competition. He performed six different methods, 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. Competitors also tested their welding knowledge with a written test.
“We are very proud of our students’ hard work and ability to overcome challenges,” Travis said.
Glencoe’s Emma Becker in the Ridgewater Electrician program earned Gold in the Electrical Construction Wiring division.
“The competition itself was very fun, and I really enjoyed being a part of it,” said Becker, a second-year Electrician student. “There was a test portion where you are judged on your knowledge of the National Electrical Code, and an actual wiring portion where we were given a task to complete. I knew exactly what I was doing on the wiring part of the competition, but I didn’t feel as confident with the written test.” Confident enough though for the top podium step.
“We in the Electrician program are very proud of Emma and what she has accomplished,” said instructor Leland Floren. “Her skill, speed and precision during competition impressed many people. It will be interesting to see what doors open and what opportunities present themselves to her as time goes on. She is an outstanding student, and I am certain she will achieve whatever she sets her mind to.”
Becker is no stranger to trade competitions. Earlier this year, she finished in the top 5 in a national IDEAL Elite Electricians Championship in Florida.
The SkillsUSA welding and electrician championship performances qualify the students to compete at nationals in June in Georgia, but it is uncertain, at this time, whether the students will be able to attend.
AUTOMOTIVE BODY COLLISION REPAIR
Four students from Ridgewater’s Automotive Body Collision Repair program competed in the Auto Body and Refinishing categories.
Tristian Lang of Hutchinson earned third-place podium honors. Others competing included Ethann Newport of Little Falls, Jacob Raak of Jasper, and Jeremiah Karels of Howard Lake.
“All four did an incredible job finishing just a few points short of being on the podium,” said Ridgewater instructor Kelly Rue. Some of the tasks they performed included painting, dent repair, estimating, welding, and plastic repair.
For more information about Ridgewater Electrician, Welding or Auto Body Collision Repair programs, go to www.ridgewater.edu/academics.