During the conference, students showcased their skills learned in vocational and technical training programs such as culinary arts and engineering technology and competed in other competitions including a job interview, a prepared speech, an improvised speech and a demonstration of work.
Skills USA’s mission is to empower its members to become world-class workers, leaders, and responsible American citizens.
“Skills USA has been a great experience,” said Esteban Acevedo Cruz, a senior and cooking student at Douglas High School. “I had to work under pressure in a limited time. The judges helped me realize how conscientious I am at work. I also have a better sense of the knowledge I gained while enrolling in the culinary arts program. I also understood that I had a bright future in this field and that I would never give up on my dreams.
DHS Sophomore and cooking student Jake Guzy won silver in the job interview contest.
“SkillsUSA was a great experience overall,” Guzy said. Everyone was kind and supportive with a very competitive atmosphere. I was able to create new relationships and brought home skills I didn’t know I had.
Kerry Stack, a culinary arts and commercial baking teacher at Douglas High School, said Guzy and Acevedo Cruz demonstrated the skills and leadership that CTE courses provide students.
“These young men are such a great example of what CTE courses can do for our students,” she said. “They have spent hours training and honing their skills which will benefit them when they enter the job market. They have learned discipline and a great work ethic will help them progress in their chosen career. I couldn’t be more proud of them.
The competitions during the conference are designed to challenge students like real-life scenarios in the various careers, which students have found helpful.
For example, teams in the engineering design and development class solved an on-site problem using STEM solutions and skills.
“Most engineering job interviews require responding to a similar problem-solving challenge as part of the hiring process,” said DHS student Emmet Allen.
Students were challenged to come up with ideas for building solutions with Legos and materials to build bridges and similar objects.
In some engineering and technology competitions, a group from Douglas High School won third place for their battery storage solution and another team from DHS created a silicone lid for food storage.
“The conference was a great opportunity for the students to have an authentic venue to showcase their engineering skills and brought the students and teacher together in a fun environment,” said Kristina Erb, an engineering and technology teacher at the Douglas High School. The Skills USA program is a wonderful cornerstone for motivation and skill enhancement in technical areas that simulate career and work environments.