Peyton Holland says, "It's the person who always strives to do better than their best who will excel in competition and in life." Here's how this double winner and others do it.
The national competition is several months away, but savvy competitors are getting ready for the challenge now. This is crucial, especially when you consider that every person competing in Kansas City, Mo., must first win local, state and sometimes regional contests to qualify as a national competitor.
How can you be the best in the nation? Listen to the men and women on the technical committees that set the national standards not only for contests, but for what every new employee should know. Many of these experts also offer a hint of whats to come, technology-wise, in the 2004 update of the contest rules.
Where we normally see deficiencies, however, is in some of the softer skills, like project planning and organization. There are quite a few elements and a lot of parts and pieces involved in the contest. If the contestants do not manage their time wisely, they will find that it is difficult, if not impossible, to complete all of the elements. Every year there are only a small percentage of our contestants who actually finish all of the elements and produce a functioning system.
So, it is important for the contestant to be able to quickly interpret the prints and job specifications, identify the correct parts and materials, plan the work and proceed with the actual installations. Arriving prepared with these soft skills will allow contestants to devote more effort to the productive tasks of installing and testing their completed electrical systems.
Telecommunications cabling is quickly becoming an expected utility in todays homes, pre-wired with the infrastructure to support voice, data and broadband information and entertainment distribution. To help prepare residential wiring students, the national technical committee will incorporate some of these elements into the revised technical standards.
Contestants can expect to see elements requiring the installation of twisted pair and coaxial cable, connectors and terminating hardware to support these telecommunications applications. These structured wiring systems will be installed in compliance with the current TIA/EIA 570 standards.
The skill I found that was lacking with the contestants was their ability to express themselves verbally when questioned during the oral interview. Example questions are, What product would you recommend to your client to take home in order to maintain their nail service? and How would you answer a client who claims that her artificial nails keep lifting?
Many of the contestants have not had much experience in plotting to a file. The technical committee spends much of the setup day teaching the contestants how to plot for the contest.
The contest is designed to keep up with the CAD software. In years past, the contestants have had to know how to import DXF files, how to develop interior one- or two-point perspectives, how to calculate stair sections, and how to analyze and select information from manufacturers catalogs. The board drafting portion is phasing out. It may or may not be a part of the 2004 contest.
Opening and Closing Ceremonies
While we will add no new skills to the new technical standards, there are many skills in the current standards that we do not presently test but probably will in the future.
Power Equipment Technology
Contestants often are not familiar with modern test equipment or how to use test equipment to troubleshoot complex electronic equipment. Many are not able to read and understand schematics necessary to analyze and repair electronic circuitry.
The current technical standards refer people to the Consumer Electronics Association, but people interested in the Electronics Applications standards should now connect to the National Coalition for Electronics Education website for curriculum information (www.ncee-edu.org). The NCEE is comprised of manufacturers, servicers and educators that were involved in the drafting of the original skills standards.
This is a very challenging contest, and each year the scores are improving. We notice that contestants need to work harder on tooth anatomy instrumentation, radiology, business skills and laboratory skills. In the next edition of technical standards, we will continue to add new dental materials, especially in the operative, specialty and dental laboratory areas.
Contestants often lack skills in router security, subnetting, use of their own laptop, and documentation of the problem and solution. When the next edition of technical standards comes out, new skills added will be command line configuration of a Cisco switch and end-to-end network configuration and troubleshooting.
Collision Repair Technology
For welding, two areas were lacking in last years contestants: failure to provide the proper weld size and rushing through the welding process warping the metal.
For refinishing, it was observed that some experienced difficulty in adjusting their equipment. For frame and unibody, many of the contestants had a difficult time setting up the gauges for datum, and many did not follow the directions and placed the gauges at the wrong control points.
For estimate writing, identifying all the damage (missed items) and included and not-included operations were not considered (missed procedures).
For plastics, they had a difficult time identifying the different types of plastics. In metal finishing, contestants should clean the finishing product for final appearance and be sure to work on the area where plastic filler is used first so they do not run out of time. Overall, contestants need to listen to instructions. Aluminum welding will begin to be introduced for future contests.
Total Quality Management
Many students are weak in presentation skills, and some have problems with organizational skills. Overall, the students are well prepared and ready to work.
Every year something new and exciting is added to the Total Quality/Six Sigma arena. Learning and applying these new and innovative ways to work as a team and solve complex problems are always expected by the judges.
SkillsUSA Champions | Winter 2004 | Volume 38, No. 2