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NCCER Board Meeting

May 15th, 2013

On April 23-24, I attended the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) Board of Trustees meeting in Indianapolis. SkillsUSA continues to become more involved with NCCER and their globally-recognized contractor members. NCCER CEO Don Whyte provided an update on the state of the association and announced a pre-pilot of a Skills-to-Industry Recruitment Alliance that will involve potential hiring of SkillsUSA students by these contractors. He also announced a $40,000 fundraising goal for support of our national Carpentry contest and new sponsorship of our national Masonry contest. NCCER Vice President Steve Greene announced new scholarships for SkillsUSA members and more connection to the NCCER Build Your Future initiative. Don Whyte and board member Boyd Worsham (also our national carpentry tech committee chair) will be traveling with us to Germany in July in support of our WorldTeam. In another piece of positive news, our BPD staff has been working with NCCER member Fluor Construction to gain support from the corporation. It’s always good to be a part of the governance of trade associations, but also a great opportunity to network with top executives from the industries represented.

WorldTeam in Leesburg

May 15th, 2013

On April 27-29, SkillsUSA had 19 of our 20 competitors in Leesburg (our Welding competitor was in Australia competing) for team training and coaching as we continue to prepare for the WorldSkills Competition to be held in Leipzig, Germany, July 2-7, 2013. The training was designed to help them get to know their fellow team members, team leaders and staff and feel confident about the entire WorldSkills event.

During our time together, we provided them with information and training about traveling abroad, representing the United States, being a leader and managing time and stress. We also conducted scenario training based on actual events/issues competitors have experienced at prior WorldSkills Competitions. Competitors were able to talk about any issues, technical training, etc., that they may have. In addition, we visited the German Embassy to get a feel for German culture and learn about the country and then had lunch at a German restaurant. During lunch, Sam Morgante, representing Congressman Jim Langevin (RI-02), joined us and addressed the team. (Representative Langevin is one of the co-chairs of the CTE Caucus.)

SkillsUSA is grateful for the WorldTeam training that is being conducted by the experts and for the tremendous support from our industry sponsors: Lowe’s, Snap-on, 3M, Festo, AWS, AWI, ASE, Carhartt, John Deere, Toyota, Lincoln, Miller, Pivot Point, Unilver Foods, WOW Web Professionals and the state associations from Fla., Mass., Mich., Wis., N.C., S.C., Ohio and Pa.

Firing on All Cylinders at Daytona 500

March 15th, 2013

We had an amazing opportunity to talk about SkillsUSA, skilled trades and welding from February 20-24 during a week of racing at Daytona Beach, Florida. This was the SkillsUSA WorldTeam final Weld-Off  -  a competition taking 22 hours over four days – to select the final member of the WorldTeam. We had three finalists, Andrew Cardin of Massachusetts, Tanner Tipsword of Wyoming and Alex Pazkowski of Michigan. All of them did fantastic work, and Alex was named the winner on Sunday evening.

The other big winner was SkillsUSA. Thanks to an outdoor booth valued at $58,000 and donated by Larsen Motorsports, we had tens of thousands of people come by to talk, meet the students and examine their welding projects. Larsen Motorsports is owned by Chris and Elaine Larsen, and she’s one of only four female jet fuel dragster drivers in the world. She was in the booth signing autographs right along with the students when they were on break. The SkillsUSA flag was flying and the SkillsUSA and AWS logos were prominently displayed on a racing trailer in the booth. Crowds got progressively larger through the week. By Sunday, the crowds were four and five deep. See the photos at: www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152585499225591.959256.22208255590&type=1.

The connection to Larsen was made through Youth Development Foundation Committee member Paul Cleveland of Miller Electric Mfg. Co., Inc., and members of the Welding contest technical committee. The American Welding Society (AWS) was the main sponsor and, on awards night had a beautiful white tent with lights and a sound system right down on Daytona Beach. It was a beautiful setting and event to announce the winner and recognize each of our contestants. Thanks go to Brandon Muehlbrandt of Lincoln Electric Co., Nick Peterson of Miller and all the other participants for pulling this whole event together. I know Alex will do a wonderful job of representing the United States in Germany this July.

Highlights

March 15th, 2013
  • 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.

Making the Case for Manufacturing Careers

February 15th, 2013

Mike Rowe and Tim Lawrence

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.

WorldTeam Debriefing

January 15th, 2013

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.

Highlights

December 27th, 2012
  • 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.

 

Finalists for WorldTeam Selected During FABTECH

December 14th, 2012

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:

Winning WorldTeam Returns from Brazil

December 1st, 2012

SkillsUSA WorldTeamThe 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

Highlights

December 1st, 2012
  • 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.

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