Thousands of CareerTech students from across Oklahoma converged in Tulsa in April for the SkillUSA State Competition. At the end of the three-day event, seven students from Northeast Tech’s Afton Campus found themselves on the winner’s podium advancing to the SkillsUSA National Competition.
Leading the Northeast Tech Afton delegation is Bobby Foreman, a Vinita native who placed first in the Automotive Refinishing Technology Category. Foreman is a two-time SkillsUSA State Champion, and this will be his second trip to the SkillsUSA National Competition.
“I think I will benefit, because I know what to expect. Nationals is 100% different from state,” Foreman said. “I also know what the judges expect to see. The two main things I plan to work on are color tinting and measuring.”
Automotive Refinishing Technology is just one of many competition categories available to students participating in SkillsUSA – a national student organization that offers training, career opportunities, scholarships and prizes through annual competitions. Depending on the program, students may compete at regional, state or national levels. By winning state, Foreman advances to the national competition in June, but he won’t go alone.
Joining Foreman at nationals will be classmates Trey Hoskins and Sam Hoover who participated as a team in the Robotics and Automation Technology category. At the end of their event, they too walked away with gold medals.
“We had to distinguish between plastic and metal blocks by using sensors – determining which block had a hole halfway through, all the way through, or no hole with limit switches, and then program the robot to pick up, flip, and sort all blocks in numbered bins,” Hoskins said. “It was very challenging but we pushed through and figured it out.”
Rounding out the competitors headed to SkillsUSA Nationals are four welders: classmates, Gabe Mustain, Armando Montor, Spencer Cook and Cy Bruening. Mustain placed first in Welding Sculpture, and Montor, Cook and Bruening took first place in the Welding Fabrication contest. These three were tasked with making a folding table from sheet metal within an allotted timeframe.
The SkillsUSA National Competition takes place June 19-23 in Louisville, Ky. The students and their instructors will travel to Louisville with all expenses paid, thanks to the support of the district’s Board of Education.
“Each year, the board takes action to provide funding for the students who place first at SkillsUSA State, earning the chance to represent the district and the state at the national competition,” said Northeast Tech Superintendent Fred Probis. “Our board realizes the importance of these competitions, not only for the skills and professional networking opportunities it brings to the students, but also because it expands their world a little bit.”
Probis went on to note that for many students who compete in nationals, it’s their first travel experience outside the state of Oklahoma.
“Traveling opens their eyes to the reality that the world is much bigger than they imagined, and it’s full of opportunity for those willing to work hard,” Probis said. “We are proud of each and every one of these students, and we wish them the best of luck at nationals.”