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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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