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Construction Industries Institute Builds Connections

August 15th, 2012

From July 22-25, SkillsUSA had the opportunity to be a major participant in the Construction Industries Institute (CII) in Baltimore, Md. I was joined by Karmen Ayres, immediate past national student vice president, high school division, and an electrical trades student from Aberdeen Washington. Karmen was a featured speaker during one of the CII plenary sessions.

We were pleased to have the support of NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) at this event. NCCER provided booth space in the CII Expo for SkillsUSA and worked closely with Karmen on her presentation. NCCER CEO, Don Whyte, and Vice President Steve Greene, and his wife, Diane, were instrumental in securing the opportunity for our participation.

More than 650 construction executives attended. The conference was packed with high-level training and information sessions on building efficiency, productivity and profitability in commercial construction. One of the most popular sessions at the Institute was the presentation by Karmen and some more of our students. We received high praise for the students’ presentation skills and educational opportunities and Karmen has already been invited to participate in two additional national conferences, representing SkillsUSA, NCCER and the construction industry.

Highlights

August 1st, 2012
  • Speaking of training, Deb Tripp, our associate director of training, left the national staff on Friday, July 13 to take over the SkillsUSA state association director position in Virginia. We wish her well as the new Virginia state director.
  • Prior to Deb’s departure, we posted the associate director of training position and I am pleased to announce that Niki Clausen has interviewed and been promoted to the position. Niki has come full circle through the SkillsUSA program as a former member, national officer, instructor, advisor, state director and as a member of the national staff for the past two and a half years. In her time with us, Niki has taken our alumni to new heights and we are very proud of her accomplishments. And, as one of our current trainers for students and educators, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. I am confident she will excel in her new role.
  • We are wrapping up final details and inquiries regarding our largest NLSC in history. Paid registration for conference was at all time high of 10, 037. And, there were a record 5,901 contestants, 11 percent of them over the age of 25.
  • We were also thrilled with the large number of business and government VIPs attending this year. Over 300 attended, and we were pleased that one of them, Assistant Secretary of Education Dr. Brenda Dan-Messier, was published in a recent USDOE newsletter: Commenting on the NLSC experience, Dann-Messier said, “I was truly humbled and inspired by the … students who competed in 94 skills competitions …. Equally amazing was the enormous outpouring of support—through voluntarism, cash contributions, state-of-the-art equipment, etc.—from hundreds of teachers, national advisers, and business and industry leaders across this nation. I walked away filled with hope for our nation’s future workforce and prosperity.” Dann-Messier also spoke at the Youth Development Foundation Awards and Recognition Luncheon, before the SkillsUSA corporate meeting, and before the SkillsUSA joint delegate special session.
  • I attended the Construction Industries Institute in Baltimore starting last Sunday through Wednesday with Karmen Ayers, past national officer from Washington State. Karmen was our student representative and speaker at the opening plenary of construction executives. Karmen and I operated a SkillsUSA exhibit booth at this event in cooperation with NCCER. There were great connections with several hundred commercial construction executives at this event.

Meetings with NCCER – Back in Gator Country

June 1st, 2012

Following three days in the office, I was back on a plane to Jacksonville, Fla. for the NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) Board of Trustees meeting, May 8-11. On the evening of May 8, NCCER CEO Don Whyte, Board President Bob Parker, the board and over 100 special guests attended the dedication of NCCER’s new national headquarters building outside of Gainesville. It is an impressive facility and it was dedicated “to the men and women who build the world.” The main entrance to the building is accented with brick pavers that honor the companies and individuals who contributed to the building campaign. The SkillsUSA logo appears on two of the bricks. One is for the donation from and me and another staff member. The second is for the donation from Boyd Warsham, chairman of our National Carpentry Contest Technical Committee, former state carpentry competitor and SkillsUSA alumnus. Boyd is also the senior vice president of the Haskell Company, a major industrial construction company and the builder of the NCCER headquarters.

William Symonds from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and project director at the influential Pathways to Prosperity Project was one of the keynote speakers at the dedication. I had a long conversation with Symonds and he knows SkillsUSA very well. He told me his son’s life had been changed when he enrolled in a culinary program in Massachusetts and when he competed in the Massachusetts SkillsUSA Championships. During his speech, he spoke passionately about the need for CTE as a major element of education reform in the USA. He also announced that Harvard will convene a National Pathways to Prosperity Conference following the presidential election. He extended a personal invitation to me to participate. This is a discussion that SkillsUSA needs to be part of and I’m thrilled that we will be there.

I was appointed to another three-year term on the board of trustees during the board meeting the following day. Other board action included discussion of a new international outreach initiative in training, curriculum and assessments and a new marketing campaign, “Build Your Future,” to get youth excited about careers in construction.

Highlights

December 15th, 2011
  • On November 11, I attended the NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) board of trustees meeting in Phoenix. We have some great partners in the group, and they’re still talking about how much they enjoyed their board meeting during our national conference last June.
  • After NCCER, I was off to Chicago for the FABTECH show, November 14 and 15, sponsored by the American Welding Society, Precision Metalforming Association, Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association (AWS, PMA, SME and FMA). SkillsUSA WorldTeam medalists from 2009 Calgary and 2011 London, Joe Young and Brad Clink, were formally recognized during the conference with scholarships and awards. And, I was given the Plummer Memorial Education Lecture Award which was quite an honor. The annual award has been presented since 1986 and is in the name of the AWS president from ’52-’54 and later AWS executive director. The title of my presentation was “Welding Education: Changing Lives and Building the 21st Century Workforce.”
  • Staff reported during our recent staff meeting that Toyota was pleased with the Champion of the Year dinner. The event raised close to $300,000. Radiator Specialty Company has awarded $25,000 in scholarships to students from five SkillsUSA postsecondary chapters. During the same meeting that donations have come in from 45 companies since September, of which 19 are new or are doing more than in the past as a result of the dinner.
  • TECHSPO already has booked 58 indoor booths and 11 outdoor booths for next year’s conference.

 

Construction Industry Institute

August 15th, 2011

In Chicago, July 24 -27, I attended the Construction Industry Institute (CII). It was a tremendous networking opportunity to meet with major contractors and business owners. I understand this was the first time students were involved in the CII conference and the first time there was a concentration on crafts. SkillsUSA was there in partnership with NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research).

Past SkillsUSA national officer Katie Grimnes, who is training to be an electrical line worker, spoke during the opening general session to a tremendous response. CII also showed a video produced in cooperation by NCCER and SkillsUSA. Later during the conference, I moderated a panel entitled “Embracing Youth, Diversity & the Future of Our Craft Professionals.” Katie Grimnes was on the panel along with past SkillsUSA member Holley Thomas, a certified structural welder with Kellogg, Brown and Root in Alabama and Dr. Mittie Cannon, Director of Workforce at the Robbins & Morton Group a supporter of SkillsUSA in Alabama.

Among the individuals I met was a gentleman from the Smithsonian. He said he might be of assistance in archiving SkillsUSA memorabilia. I’m hopeful SkillsUSA will be invited back to CII next year.


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