2012-04-12 / Community

Students prepare for state competition

Career and Technical Education students from Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District (DSISD) are preparing for SkillsUSA competition where they will put their occupational and leadership skills to the test, competing against thousands of other top students from throughout Michigan. Students have been learning and practicing their skills in CTE programs at the ISD.

SkillsUSA competition gives these students the opportunity to compete and test what they’ve learned in a variety of skills categories, including automotive technology, computer aided design (CAD), welding, machining, and personal computer technician. SkillsUSA is a successful employer-driven youth development training program.

Fifteen DSISD students placed in top positions at the Regional SkillsUSA competition at Bay College in February after competing against 155 other students from throughout Upper Michigan. This gave them the opportunity to show off their special skills at State level competition in Lansing April 20-22. Those placing in top State positions continue to the National level.

Brandon Hopp (left) goes over his design with instructor Mr. Mike LeBeau. At right, Kyle Demers working on his project. Brandon Hopp (left) goes over his design with instructor Mr. Mike LeBeau. At right, Kyle Demers working on his project. Students who will be competing at the State level include 13 students from Delta County and two students from Schoolcraft County, Brandon Hopp and Kyle Demers. Both students are in the DSISD computer aided design (CAD) program taught by Mr. Mike LeBeau.

Hopp is a Big Bay de Noc High School senior, and this is his first year of training in the CAD program. According to Brandon, “I am very excited to be going downstate, and am looking forward to the challenge. The materials we were given to prepare for competition looked scary, but the pro-engineering CAD training has given me confidence and prepared me for whatever design project I’ll be assigned. I just have to apply what I’ve learned.”

Demers is a Manistique High School senior who has had two years of training in the DSISD CAD program. He placed third in the regional technical drafting event.

“Mr. LeBeau encouraged me to go to SkillsUSA so I can see how my skills compare to those of other students from throughout the State. CAD training will be very useful when I’m attending Bay de Noc Community College and Michigan Tech to study mechanical engineering. I’m very excited about the competition,” said Demers.

DSISD Career Technical Education Counselor, Tim Zimmerman, a major organizer of the regional event, said the SkillsUSA Competition is fun for the students, and it’s a reward for all their hard work throughout the year. “They start asking questions about it way back in September,” he said. “It’s different from high school athletics or academic achievement. These kids have their own special trade that they love to do and they’re going to be very successful in whatever field they go into. The best of the best will be traveling with the group to compete downstate.” It gives the students a chance to shine, and it’s something many of them look forward to all year.

Zimmerman said the skills tests can be very nerve-wracking for the students, which is why they prepare for them months in advance. “In some of the auto areas, when you’re competing, there’s a judge within inches of you watching what you’re doing and asking you questions,” he said. Students at the DSISD are learning and practicing their skills hands-on two hours every day all year in preparation for the competition. Some advanced students are in the program two years and attain State certifications after rigorous testing.

Students who compete in SkillsUSA invest a lot of extra effort to become highly skilled in automotive brakes, technical drafting, ARC welding, and other areas. Employers are looking for these students who took the extra effort to fine-tune their skills and take part in events like this. They know they’re getting one of the best trained, most highly skilled workers in the field. According to Zimmerman, “students are earning high paying salaries in high demand occupations after completing DSISD training. It’s a win-win situation for both the students and employers.”

Students in DSISD programs that have SkillsUSA competitors going downstate are supporting their fellow students by helping them fund the trip through fund-raisers and donations. For information about helping to fund the student trip, contact Tim Zimmerman at the DSISD, 786-9300, ext. 345.

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