- A staff member attended a meeting at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) on February 28 called by the Alcoa Foundation, who wanted to put SkillsUSA, Project Lead the Way, The Manufacturing Institute and Junior Achievement officials together to brainstorm on challenges in developing the manufacturing workforce and in combating negative public and educational perceptions of manufacturing. Later that day, staff engaged The Manufacturing Institute and PLTW officials in discussions on administration of and criteria for awarding digital manufacturing “badges.”
- And, looking ahead a little bit, the SkillsUSA WorldTeam has an appointment to visit the German Embassy during the team’s Washington, D.C. training program, April 26-29.
Three corporate representatives from Caterpillar – including Youth Development Foundation (YDF) member, Cameron Ferguson – met on January 28 at National Association of Manufacturing (NAM) headquarters with YDF member, Jennifer McNelly, president of The Manufacturing Institute and her communications team, Mike Rowe of mikeroweWORKS, another SkillsUSA staff member and me. The overarching topic was the public image of manufacturing and how to engage all four organizations in a national movement to educate youth about the benefits and opportunities of careers in manufacturing. Jennifer and her team are working on an action plan including media outreach featuring Mike Rowe.
The following day, Mike Rowe and his team met with Cameron and his team and me in Washington, D.C. Mike is a corporate spokesman for Caterpillar as well as a scholarship underwriter for SkillsUSA. We spoke with him about participation in the national conference, doing some promotion for SkillsUSA including the WorldTeam and promotion to recruit students into technical pathways. He’s interested! He loves the SkillsUSA Creed and was happy to hear that of the 50 students who received mikeroweWORKS travel scholarships to conference last year, four took medals and 13 finished in the top ten of their contests. He also enjoyed hearing from Cameron and friends about the students they’d met that morning from Washington County Technical High School in Hagerstown, Md. The students said what they believe is important is to do something for others and leave the world a better place. I believe Mike Rowe liked that as much as he liked the SkillsUSA Creed.
We held a WorldTeam conference call on December 19th including the technical experts, competitors and some state association directors. The experts and competitors who attended WorldSkills Americas in Brazil gave overviews of what they experienced. The key take away was that the competition was intense and that this is actually “a very big deal.” Sharing their insights with those experts and competitors who could not attend will help set the stage for the rest of the training and meetings the team will be undergoing.
We also discussed what materials and other things experts and competitors will need. We will do all that we can to accommodate their needs based on budget. And, we talked about getting the whole WorldTeam to the national office for additional training and visits to D.C. this coming spring. A decision will be made in February pending budget.
- Staff met recently with representatives of the ALCOA Foundation on future support. ALCOA is a past SkillsUSA partner. And, staff met in Washington, D.C. with superintendent of Arizona Public Instruction and his chief of staff to discuss the Skill Connect Assessments.
- Janet Conner, state association director for the high school division of SkillsUSA Texas visited the National Leadership Center on December 5 to review new SkillsUSA conference management software. Because of the association’s size, Texas is often a driver of association services that benefit other state associations.
- We recently finalized a new partnership with the Gates Corporation (automotive division and a manufacturer/supplier of automotive hoses, belts, tensioners, pulleys and a variety of other parts). A Gates representative serves on our national auto service technical committee and came in at the official sponsor level ($25,000 minimum). We are thrilled to have them on board. We will be sending out information on how Gates would like to work with state associations and local chapters.
- And, in the “it’s nice to be asked” category, we’re pleased that a congressional office has consulted SkillsUSA to ask what our priorities for CTE are in the 113th Congress and what we would recommend to promote CTE. Discussion included the administration’s blueprint for CTE, Perkins, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, high school and postsecondary CTE, SkillsUSA WorldTeam and the importance of industry involvement. There will be further discussion in the weeks ahead.
Three young welders advanced from the American Welding Society (AWS)/SkillsUSA U.S. Invitational Weld Trials held during FABTECH 2012 in Las Vegas. There were six U.S. contestants at FABTECH, two from the U.K., and one each from Canada, Australia and Russia. The three finalists competing for a spot on the SkillsUSA WorldTeam are Alex Pazlowski, Washtenaw Community College, Mich.; Andrew Cardin, Blackstone Valley Technical High School, Mass.; and, Tanner Tipsword, Eastern Wyoming College, Wyo.
The finalists will compete at the SkillsUSA WorldTeam Weld Finals in February to be held as part of Speedweek at the 2013 Daytona 500 in February. The event will be hosted by Larsen Motorsports at the Daytona International Speedway on the manufacturer’s midway outside of Turn 4, and it will be open to the public. The competition will last four days and will test multiple welding processes. The welding requirements are so precise that a number of the welds will require x-ray reviews and hydrostatic pressure tests up to 1,000 lbs per square inch. The welding finalist will be announced in February, and he will receive a $40,000 scholarship from the AWS Foundation.
Thanks for FABTECH and the upcoming Daytona trials go to a number of sponsors including the American Welding Society, Lincoln Electric Company and Miller Electric Manufacturing Co., Inc. A shot-on-site video of the awards dinner can be viewed below:
The 11 members of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam and 12 technical experts returned on November 19 from a victorious showing in São Paulo during the WorldSkills Americas competitions from November 11 – 18. There were 23 other countries participating in the competitions. I’m proud to announce that seven members of the team won medals in seven of the 10 competitions SkillsUSA entered. The winners are:
- Automobile Technology — Kieron Kohlmann, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Mich. — Gold and “Best in Nation”
- Cabinetmaking — Daniel Berrios, Northampton Community College, Bethlehem, Pa. — Gold
- Autobody Repair — George Mason, Lexington Technology Center, Lexington, S.C. — Gold
- Plumbing and Heating — Nicholas Michalenko, Smith Vocational, Northampton, Mass. — Silver
- CNC Milling — Joshua Bedell, Pinellas Technical Education Center, Clearwater, Fla. — Silver
- CNC Turning — Ronald Olkowski, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Mich. — Bronze
- Cooking — Matthew Lorman, North Point High School, Waldorf, Md. — Bronze
Contestants in Graphic Design Technology, Web Design and the Mechatronics team did not place but they and everyone involved now have the experience of international competition and that’s all to the good. We’ll have a debriefing soon, so I’ll have more details next time.
News releases on all of the members of WorldTeam — including WorldSkills Americas information — will be sent to hometown and state newspapers, trade publications and posted online last week. To see photos of the WorldTeam in Brazil, please visit: www.skillsusa.org/compete/worldskillsamerica.shtml#results
- On November 7, a staff member and I took the train to West Orange, N.J. to meet with the CEO, two group VPs, the marketing director and the business development director of Lincoln Educational Systems, the parent company of Lincoln Technical Institute among several other colleges. We were joined by Pete Carey, New Jersey state association director, three of his advisors and two of his state officers, both from the Gloucester County Institute of Technology.
- The Alumni Coordinating Committee met at the national center for a three-day meeting, November 9-11. They reviewed their FY13 objectives, did some FY14 planning and put together plans for the national conference.
- We recently received some good news on sponsorship. 3M Company, which was a sponsor years ago, has pledged in-kind support for the SkillsUSA Championships and pledged $36,000 to support our WorldTeam Cabinetmaking contestant. And, Interstate Battery System of America has already pledged $25,000 for next year. Interstate is pleased by the response of our chapters to the fundraising plan calling it the “best early response by any organization.”
- Two staff members represented the national office during the recent Mid-America Conference in Columbus, Nebraska. They report it was a highly successful experience for all of the students and teachers attending and that Greg Stahr, Nebraska state association director, did a great job leading the event.
- Welcome to our newest board member representing NASDCTEc, Scott Stump, Colorado associate provost for career and technical education. Scott is currently serving as NASDCTEc’s secretary/treasurer, and he knows student organizations having worked for National FFA and served as state FFA advisor.
- And, finally, the board will be meeting by webinar, December 3-4. The spring board meeting will be held on March 13, hosted by Nick Mastrone at IRWIN corporate headquarters in Huntersville, N.C.
Eleven members of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam are currently in São Paulo, Brazil to participate in the WorldSkills Americas competition to compete with countries from North and South America. This competition is a great “warm up ” for the WorldSkills Competition to be held in Leipzig, Germany, in July 2013. WorldSkills Americas, in cooperation with its member countries, organizes a competition every two years focused on vocational training. The first competition was held in 2010 in Rio de Janeiro.
WorldSkills Americas (WSA) is a non-governmental not-for-profit organization. Its objective is to provide means for vocational education quality improvement in North America, Central America and Caribbean and South America countries, involving governments, industries, commerce and vocational education and training organizations and/or institutions. The WorldSkills Americas operates in conjunction with the WorldSkills International.
Members of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam who are competing at the WorldSkills Americas competition are:
Autobody Repair – George Mason, Lexington Technology Center, Lexington, S.C.
Automobile Technology – Kieron Kohlmann, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Mich.
CNC Turning – Ronald Olkowski, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Mich.
CNC Milling – Joshua Bedell, Pinellas Technical Education Center, Clearwater, Fla.
Cabinetmaking – Daniel Berrios, Northampton Community College, Bethlehem, Pa.
Cooking – Matthew Lorman, North Point High School, Waldorf, Md.
Graphic Design Technology – Sarah Parker, Ronald Reagan High School, Pfafftown, N.C.
Mechatronics – Antony Costantini, The Technology Center, Fremont, Ohio
Mechatronics – Jarrod Nichols, The Technology Center, Fremont, Ohio
Plumbing and Heating – Nicholas Michalenko, Smith Vocational, Northampton, Mass.
Web Design – Michael Angel, Essex High School/Center for Technology, Essex, Essex Junction, Vt.
Twelve of the SkillsUSA WorldTeam technical experts are also participating.
- On October 1-3, our Education, Training and Assessments department staff were engaged in intense training with Quantum Learning’s nationally respected trainer Mark Reardon. Our training staff learned the latest training and motivational techniques; and will be incorporating these into our training seminars and workshops for students and advisors. The training included focus on effective meetings, new teacher training and the most current training trends and techniques. Staff tells me they were excited about the training and even more excited about implementing what they learned with our stakeholders.
- As a follow up to the Champion of the Year Dinner and great connections from YDF member Dave Camden of Toyota, we are working with Interstate Batteries to introduce a national fundraising campaign for our local chapters. In our discussions with local advisors and student leaders, fundraising is a critical component of local involvement in SkillsUSA. Chapters will have the opportunity to sell Interstate alkaline batteries and keep approximately 50 percent of all sales.
- I’m also pleased to announce that earlier last month, Interstate Batteries announced a partnership with SkillsUSA. Starting this year, participating SkillsUSA student chapters will be able to sell a wide variety of Interstate Batteries products from AAA, AA, C, D and 9V batteries to flashlights and organizers with testers. And, for each Interstate Batteries product sold, SkillsUSA student chapters will receive 50 percent of the sale price.
- Finally, staff reports that we are almost ready to travel to Brazil with 11 of our finest students to compete in WorldSkills Americas in November. Our final count of participants is complete, and we are in the last days of planning for the event.
- The national office has been converting its email system to Microsoft Outlook the past few weeks with a new IT supplier. As anyone who has ever been through a similar undertaking knows, where there’s lots of data migration not all data migrates to where it’s supposed to be.
- Staff reports that our 12 contestants going to WorldSkills Americas in November have their plane tickets. There’s just that little matter of making sure everyone has visas.