Four Ferris State University students will be among 6,000 career and technical education students competing in the SkillsUSA Championships on Tuesday, June 26 in Kansas City, Mo.
Marcus Vanpoppelen, a freshman majoring in Drafting and Tool Design Technology from Bay City; Brad Edlund, a senior from Iron Mountain majoring in Architecture and Sustainability; William Burtt, a sophomore from Lowell majoring in Heavy Equipment Service Engineering Technology; and John Bohnett, a sophomore from Saline majoring in Graphic Media Management, earned gold medals in the Michigan SkillsUSA competition held in April in Lansing.
Students will compete in 94 trade, technical and leadership fields during the national showcase, which is being held during the 48th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference. The conference runs June 23-27 at the H. Roe Bartle Hall and Municipal Auditorium.
Edlund, a first-time competitor whose restaurant floor plan won a gold medal in the Michigan competition, began his design career with a childhood hobby of playing with construction toys.
"I've always wanted to be an architect," said Edlund, who will compete in the architectural drafting category at nationals. "I can even remember playing with Lincoln Logs and Legos as a kid."
Ferris' Vanpoppelen will compete in the technical drafting category, Burtt in diesel equipment technology and Bohnett in graphic communications.
The national SkillsUSA contest pits students against the clock and each other to challenge their problem-solving abilities, technical knowledge and hands-on experience with operational equipment. They will be competing in a workspace the size of about 16 football fields.
"It's a good hands-on competition to build student confidence," said Jill Trinklein, public relations, marketing and distance learning coordinator for Ferris' Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration program. "It puts things into perspective on how you really can make a difference in a student's life."
Associate professor Daniel Wanink has been a SkillsUSA advisor since 2003 and trains Ferris students in the technical drafting contest. Ferris has been participating in SkillsUSA competitions since the late 1970s.
"The awards are an example of the real-world education our students receive," Wanink said. "Ferris has always placed well at state and at nationals."
Ferris students also will compete for a Skills Point certificate recognizing SkillsUSA members achieving industry-defined scores.
More than 300,000 students and instructors are members of SkillsUSA. National SkillsUSA gold medal winners will have the opportunity to compete at the WorldSkills Champions.