Students across the country put their talents to the test for the SkillsUSA Competition earlier this month.
Placer County Office of Education’s 49er ROP class, taught at Nevada Union, won the state competition for the automotive services section of the event, which tests a variety of topics.
George Woodward, the Nevada Union 49er ROP instructor, took two groups of students to the competition, one that placed fourth in regionals and qualified for and won first at the state level, and another that placed sixth at the regional level.
The state competition took place April 4-7 in San Diego with about 2,000 competitors in all skills categories. There were 12 teams of four in the automotive services section, Woodward said.
The 49er ROP team consisted of Nevada Union students Brad Reif, Blake Allen and Blake Logan and Forest Charter student Christian Smith, who completed an automotive knowledge test with questions taken from a list of about 5,000 that cover every aspect of a car and hands-on work, Woodward said.
“There’s no way to prepare for that other than to try to cover everything,” he said.
The hands-on portion required measurement of automotive engine components using a micrometer, the building of an electrical circuit and measurement of current, wiring and identification of automotive components, Woodward said.
Competitors were also tested on their knowledge of SkillsUSA and even travel and dining etiquette.
“They did a lot of work,” Woodward said. “They were practicing after school, during their spring break. I was really pleased with the students and the effort they put into it.”
The students said they owed their success to preparation and knowledge acquired from class, made possible by Woodward.
“He was testing us on battery and charging, pre-delivery inspections, everything that he thought they could quiz us on,” said Christian Smith, one of the winners. “I feel (the success) was mostly because of (Woodward) and the way he made everything get through to us easier.”
Smith’s mother, Jolene Robertson, said the competition afforded her son and the other students a valuable life experience.
“It’s a big deal just to experience it, let alone bring home a medal,” Robertson said. “I am very proud of him and I know he’s very proud of himself.”
This year marked the first that the 49er ROP competed.
“A radio spot came on talking about how it helps young people develop skills needed in today’s work force,” Woodward said, adding that students had to provide a resume, cover letter and application. “That’s why I wanted to get involved. It wasn’t a typical competition. It was one that would prepare them for life.”
Not only did the competition offer preparation for life but it also is a way to unleash interests and abilities, Smith said.
“I’ve been into cars my whole life, and it’s something I’ve done my whole life,” he said. “It was very cool and exciting.”
The winning students are enrolled in the introductory auto class and, thus, could not compete in the national competition.
“If students were in the advanced class, they could compete as individuals with the chance to move on to nationals,” Woodward said. “We were competing against schools that do this yearly, so to win a gold medal our first time out was great. I want to go next year.”
Smith said he would compete again, “most definitely.”
“The main reason is because of the whole trip down there, meeting all the people and the different types of scholarships you can win if you’re in the advanced group,” Smith said. “It’s just a fun thing to do and a good learning experience.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.