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The SkillsUSA Championships

June 27th, 2013

Today, 6,000 competitors will compete in 98 contests in Bartle Hall, its Conference Center, Municipal Auditorium, American Royal Center, downtown Marriott and Phillips hotels, Penn Valley Health Science Institute and the Kansas City Firefighting Academy . It’s truly an awe-inspiring event.

Also today, TECHSPO will have its final day of exhibits and SkillsUSA University will continue. The delegate meetings be going on with primary ballots being cast for our new national officers.

This evening, be sure and join us for SkillsUSA night at Worlds of Fun.

A Call to Action and the Opening Ceremony

June 26th, 2013

I hope all chapter advisors will attend the special events today beginning at 7:45 a.m. CDT in the Count Basie Ballroom at the Marriott Downtown in Kansas City. There will be a continental breakfast followed by the Call to Action session where I’ll present SkillsUSA’s priorities for the coming year as well as national trends for career and technical education. Each attendee will receive a gift of appreciation and a chance to win other fabulous prizes. It’s all sponsored by 3M.

Afterwards, be sure and visit the SkillsUSA University session of your choice. A complete listing of sessions can be found here. SkillsUSA TECHSPO exhibits also continue today.

There are also many contests beginning today. SkillsUSA Championships contests are free and open to the public and can be found at Bartle Hall, Municipal Auditorium, American Royal, the Kansas City Firefighting Academy and Penn Valley Health Science Institute.

Tonight, the conference opens officially with the Opening Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Kemper Arena. Seating begins at 5:45 p.m. and all participants should arrive at least 45 minutes in advance. The ceremony itself begins at 7 p.m. CDT.

Mike Rowe will be the keynote speaker for the Opening Ceremony at this year’s National Leadership and Skills Conference. Thanks Caterpillar Inc. for sponsoring the Opening Ceremony and making it possible to have  Mike Rowe at our conference.

Remember that the Opening Ceremony will be broadcast via the internet here. Thanks to Lowe’s for sponsoring our live web coverage.

Leverage, Activate, Engage!

June 22nd, 2013

Leverage Activate and EngageEven though most conference participants won’t arrive in Kansas City until Monday or Tuesday, there’s still a lot going on as our the conference contest areas are being prepared for the events of the 2013 SkillsUSA Championships. Of course, registration for conference is in full swing in Bartle Hall.

Probably the biggest event of the day is the beginning of the 2013 Leverage, Activate and Engage conferences. These events are dynamic training sessions for state officers, chapter leaders and advisors. They are sponsored by Lowe’s and State Farm.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to see the latest photos and get up-to-the-minute news and information about the 2013 NLSC. Of course, we’ll be posting a link to our photos on our home page, or you can access the page directly.

You can also download the official conference program here. It is a PDF document and is viewable on smart phones and tablets.

Conference Countdown

June 15th, 2013

As we prepare for the largest national conference in SkillsUSA’s history, we have a busy staff at headquarters focused on all the details that will make it a successful conference too. There are a myriad of projects being completed from the printed programs and other materials, to the scripts, agendas, VIP schedules, reviews of equipment and facilities, packing and arrangements for transportation. I could never draw up a complete list of the tasks that have to be done. This is a time of year when I reflect that SkillsUSA is fortunate to have a staff and volunteers who have everything covered. Conference registration is at a record high of 10,002 and SkillsUSA University will offer 69 sessions. The competitors number is nearly 6,000 … 5,927 to be exact.

“TAG Tuesday” (Train-Act-Grow), is a series of leadership activities to be held for delegates during national conference. In the morning, there will be workshops for high school chapter leaders and high school state officers and there will be separate workshops for college/postsecondary delegates on networking with business. The afternoon will offer experiential sessions for the high school delegates and one-on-one interviews with business representatives for the college/postsecondary delegates.

Following up on another introduction from Board member Russ Hoffbauer, Enterprise Holdings, Inc. — holding several car rental companies — is supporting national officer travel to the national conference this year with a $10,000 donation and is providing 11 vehicles for use during conference.

SkillsUSA Championships Contest Updates

May 15th, 2013

We have posted all SkillsUSA Championships contest updates we’ve received on our website. To view them, please visit: www.skillsusa.org/compete/updates.shtml and make sure the information gets to all national competitors. There aren’t updates in every contest. If new information is presented about a contest, the information can be critical to a student’s competition.

We’ve requested technical committee chairs complete contest updates by June 1st so the students can prepare. If they do add or change anything after June 1, we have to mail (by first-class mail) the information directly to the competitors.

Highlights

May 1st, 2013
  • The final membership report for the 2012-13 school year is now complete (335,975 total) and is located at http://www.skillsusa.org/downloads/PDF/membershipreport13.pdf.
  • On April 16-17, the SkillsUSA Youth Development Foundation (YDF) met at the National Leadership Center. The meeting was very well attended and was one of the most interactive on record. The meeting started with a review of the FY14 Strategic Plan. Chairman Dave Camden and our Business Partnerships and Development staff then led the Foundation through a series of exercises to help SkillsUSA with strategy to move our partnerships efforts forward. Dave Camden has now retired from Toyota, and this was his final YDF meeting. We are very pleased and excited that Laurie Hackett of Air Products will be assuming the position of YDF chair.
  • Staff recently attended a meeting in New Orleans of the Workforce Development Committee of the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). The NCCER desires to work with SkillsUSA on a “Skills to Industry Recruitment Alliance” that will engage NCCER commercial and industrial construction contractors and NCCER’s Build Your Future (BYF) program in a database development and mentoring tactic to supply more construction tradecraft workers. The industrial and commercial construction industry has major concerns with the tradecraft worker supply, especially now that the energy sector is growing quickly. NCCER is a major supporter of the national Carpentry contest. Staff also stopped by the SkillsUSA Louisiana Awards Ceremony and briefly addressed the audience.
  • Staff members recently participated in a conference call with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) about becoming involved in the Mechatronics contest and a possible demonstration contest in 2014 in Additive Manufacturing. SME has recently projected that for every baccalaureate engineer, our economy needs seven engineering technicians.
  • On April 10, staff attended a meeting of the National Council of Career and Technology Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO). SkillsUSA will be helping NCC-CTSO create a common website that promotes CTSO missions and membership and provides shared elements of all nine CTSOs.
  • Staff members attended the Missouri state conference, the Kentucky state conference,  the Texas high school state conference, the South Carolina state conference and  the New York state conference.
  • Staff members also traveled to Louisville for NLSC 2015 planning and attended the Equipment and Engine Training Council (EETC) annual conference in Bloomington, Minn.

Competition Central

January 31st, 2013

SkillsUSA medalistsThe SkillsUSA Store is here to help students look their best this conference season. Visit our “Competition Central” section at: www.skillsusastore.org/skillsusa/welcome.asp today to find the full line of SkillsUSA work uniforms, official blazers and wind jackets, along with everything else they need to succeed.

And, please reference the official competition uniform chart for photos and descriptions of the uniform components needed for each competition.

Highlights

January 15th, 2013
  • On December 17th, members of the Office of Business Partnership and Development and Education, Training and Assessments Office joined me for a visit with the CEO of ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence), and the executive directors of NATEF (National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation) and AYES (Automotive Youth Educational Systems) to talk about strengthening our mutual alliance and capitalizing on a shared vision of our business partners. We also discussed customizing the Professional Development Program (PDP) to make the curriculum auto industry specific. NATEF wants to include employability skills in its curriculum and believes this is a way to do it. We’ll be meeting again soon and will seek funding to design and publish the polished up PDP.
  • Staff reported last week that we’ve secured a $50,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation for the purpose of informing youth about careers in manufacturing in two communities where Alcoa has facilities. We’ll be informing state associations of the locations once Alcoa has determined them.
  • We now have state association support for four additional demonstration competitions during this year’s Championships: Community Action Project; Graphic Imaging Sublimation (graphic imaging); Humanoid Robotics (programming robots for dangerous tasks); and, Urban Search and Rescue (a RoboRescue Challenge). This will take us to six demonstration contests and a total of 98 contests overall.

2013-14 Technical Standards

October 15th, 2012

The Technical Standards are valid for two years. These Standards are the result of many hours of work from a collaboration of industry partners, subject matter experts and SkillsUSA staff who worked diligently to create a user-friendly product. The Standards provide our chapters and students with an up-to-date official competition guide for both the 2013 and 2014 SkillsUSA Championships. We post changes to any of the contests on our website on the “Contest Updates” page. If a posting appears on the updates page, it supersedes the Technical Standards as written. The 2013-2014 Technical Standards will be without the score sheets as they change year to year. These are available at no charge by going to: www.skillsusa.org/compete/scorecards.shtml.

The CD-ROM package, including the Standards, an information piece, a poster and the 2012 contest projects, can be purchased for $19.95 through the SkillsUSA online catalog at: www.skillsusa.org/store/contests.html. Contest singles cost $10.95 each and include the 2012 contest project (if available) as well as helpful hints from some of our technical committee members.

The Standards are available as a 480 page perfect-bound book version for $35.95, plus shipping and handling. To purchase this printed version through the online catalog, look beneath the listing for the CD-ROM package and link for purchasing on Lulu. This button will take you to LuLu.com to place your order. To further our efforts to produce more eco-friendly materials, we’ve chosen LuLu to deliver this on-demand printed version. Delivery time is approximately three to five days, depending on the selected delivery option. Please be advised the book version of the technical standards does not contain the 2012 SkillsUSA Championships contest projects.

Summertime is Connection Time

August 1st, 2012

As we wrap up our NLSC each year and then enjoy the July 4 holiday, our next big opportunity comes as summer professional development conferences kick off for our teachers and administrators across the nation. I’ll be participating in three this summer and they offer an opportunity to connect with teachers, state directors, state agency staff, administrators and supporting business partners.

My first summer conference for 2012 was the Georgia Education and Economic Development Summit held in Atlanta, July 15-18. It was interesting to see that our good friend Bill Symonds from the Pathways to Prosperity Project at Harvard was the keynote speaker for the opening plenary.

It was invited to present a workshop on business and industry driven assessments and our Work Force Ready System and Skill Connect assessments fit the bill nicely. My presentation was well received and I got excellent feedback from the schools currently using our assessments as end of pathway exams. I received some excellent comments from teachers, administrators and university faculty and the workshop received consistent rankings of 4 to 5 on a 5-point evaluation scale.

In addition to the assessment presentation, I was kept busy with several other assignments and opportunities. The first was my participation in the commencement ceremonies of the Georgia SkillsUSA University. State Association Director Gayle Silvey and her team did an outstanding job of chapter management training for a packed house of advisors on July 15. I was honored to speak to the group and to present their completion diplomas at the end of the training.

My next step was the TIEGA Awards Luncheon where I brought greetings to nearly 300 of our instructors and administrators. I spent some quality time with our corporate member Carol Burke and learned more about her passion and support for SkillsUSA. At this activity, Gayle Silvey was honored with farewell accolades and gifts from her peers as they wished her well in her new role with the national organization. Incoming state association director and former national officer Ashley Hopkins was introduced and did a great job of orientation for the coming school year. Ashley has completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia and is nearing completion of her Masters in Workforce Development. Although Gayle will be a tough act to follow, I am confident that Ashley will do a tremendous job as our new director in Georgia.

I also spent some quality time with the regional conference and Championships coordinators and discussed the challenges of regional operations. It was a great time of sharing our national perspective on the importance of regional events and discussing new ideas. Georgia high school competitions are held inside technical colleges and this offers not only a neutral competition arena, but a great opportunity for college recruitment and for our high school members to experience a day on campus.

I also attended and spoke at a Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) dinner event to honor construction technology instructors. CEFGA is a major partner of SkillsUSA Georgia. I was also able to spend some time with CTE Director Richard Turner at this activity. He attended NLSC last month as part of the VIP program and he was thoroughly impressed.

The final activity of the conference was the Award and Recognition Brunch on July 18 where I heard State Superintendent Dr. John Barge speak to the full conference of nearly 3,000. John is a staunch supporter of CTE and SkillsUSA. He had just returned from three national meetings, including the meeting of Chief State School Officers in Idaho. His remarks included information about the big nationwide buzz and discussion regarding CTE as a key component of education reform in America. He and Georgia are doing great things in CTE and in SkillsUSA. I believe we can count on continued support from John and the Georgia Department of Education and also have confidence that Georgia’s CTE and SkillsUSA model will be a part of the larger national dialogue on education reform.

I’ll also be attending summer conferences in Minnesota and Washington State.


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