Twelve Ferris State University College of Engineering Technology students participated in this spring’s Michigan SkillsUSA competition and five of the students emerged as gold medalists.
The Lansing-based competition gave the participating Ferris students an opportunity to showcase their skills in multiple areas of competition that ranged from advertising design to welding.
Kyle Thede, a sophomore from Big Rapids who is enrolled in Ferris’ CAD Drafting and Tool Design program, participated in the Technical Drafting contest. As a second-year participant in the statewide competition, Thede prepared for the contest as he had the prior year. He read manuals, books and practiced related exercises. With his spring semester largely dedicated to contest preparation, Thede was still surprised by the competition’s challenging nature.
“It was pretty difficult to take the problem that they gave us,” he said. “It wasn’t what I was expecting. It was basically a stress test.”
Thede and four other Ferris students took first-place honors in their competitions. Each finalist will have an opportunity to move on to the national SkillsUSA competition in June in Kansas City, Mo.
The other four Ferris gold medalists were Jacob Stratz, of Big Rapids, in HVACR; Ron Olkowski, of Washington, in CNC Turning; Josh O’Neil, of Harbor Beach, in Diesel Equipment Technology; and John Bohnett, of Saline, in Graphic Communication.
In all, 11 Ferris students received medals for participation in various contests.
Pat Klarecki, interim director of Ferris’ School of Design and Manufacturing, explained that each student has a faculty trainer to collaborate with on projects and practice exercises with throughout the year. Reflecting on the success of Ferris students, Klarecki said, “It lets the students know that they are amongst the finest and most talented students in the country.”
Faculty members Dan Wanink, Gary Maike, Joe Compton, Ramon Robinson and Klarecki assisted the students in preparation for the competition.
SkillsUSA consists of more than 13,000 chapters and 54 state and territorial associations, involving more than 300,000 high school students, college students and professional members. The organization has served more than 9.9 million members since 1965.
Ferris has been participating in SkillsUSA competitions since the late 1970s.
By having multiple finalists from Ferris, Klarecki said SkillsUSA has brought “national awareness … to some of the top high school students in the country.”