WSC Skills USA students win at competition

Erika Schwartz, Staff Writer

The Department of Technology and Applied Science is celebrating students’ success at the Skills USA State Leadership and Skills contest last week.

Seven of the nine students who competed in Grand Island returned home with awards in the top three of their contests.

Matt Spawn and Tyrel Garner placed first and second in carpentry. Claire Brejcha came in second in the welding sculpture competition, and Jamison Baird placed second in plumbing. Ryan Essink and Chris Palensky placed first and third in cabinetmaking. In the automotive service technology competition, Dan Fullerton placed third.

The first-place winners will compete at the national contest in Louisville this upcoming June.

“Wayne State College competed extremely well with the other postsecondary schools,” said Professor Greg Vander Weil. “This is a direct reflection of the quality of our ITE students and the education they are receiving here at Wayne State in the areas of industrial technology.”

The Skills USA State Leadership and Skills contest is a yearly competition in which WSC students who are in Skills USA, a career and technical student organization, compete. The competition usually lasts about eight hours, during which each student displays hands-on skills. The students can participate in a variety of technical and hands-on competitions like cabinetmaking or plumbing, as well as leadership competitions such as parliamentary procedure or job skill demonstration.

Wayne State College has had a Skills USA chapter and has competed in competitions for more than 20 years, Vander Weil said.

In order to compete in the State Leadership and Skills contest, students must be OSSA certified, proving they are qualified to safely operate power tools. The competing students use the skills they have learned in different classes or on-the-job training.

“Our students were competing against community college students who are studying this all the time in a concentrated two-year program. In this case the community colleges have the advantage,” Vander Weil said. “Our students are studying other things like gen eds and other programs as well as studying industrial tech. I think it’s a real testimony to our program to see our students putting in the extra time and effort to end up on the podium.”