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SkillsUSA Participants Continue Success at 2018 National Leadership and Skills Conference, Ferris Student, Advisor Prepare for WorldSkills 2019 in Russia

Ferris State UniversityA team from Ferris State University’s College of Engineering Technology continued the tradition of excellence while participating in the 2018 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

CAD, Drafting, and Tool Design Technology Professor Dan Wanink said six CET students joined him for the 54th annual conference, with Jeanette Woolridge, of Pontiac, earning a bronze medal in the Architectural Drafting competition, and William “Grady” Cebelak, of Grand Rapids, taking the bronze among the Diesel Equipment Technology contestants.

“This level of excellence puts the learning available through Ferris’ CET programs in a most positive light, on the national level,” Wanink said. “A number of alumni from our programs attended the conference as corporate partners, and their message to our team was that the workforce is in real need of what our graduates can provide. We did not medal in all the categories we entered at the SkillsUSA national contest; however, each of the students had to earn first place in Michigan to advance to the national level. So, our team being able to compete at this level remains significant and important.”

Wanink said that while they were at the SkillsUSA conference, it was determined that Heavy Equipment Maintenance student Ryan Meppelink, of Zeeland, would be part of the United States team at the WorldSkills 2019 Competition in Kazan, Russia. Representatives of more than 70 countries will go against each other, with more than 50 areas of skilled professions in a wide range of industries to be exhibited there.

“Ryan’s trainer is based in Wisconsin. So, they will be meeting in Michigan, Wisconsin and a few other states. They will meet with corporate partners to prepare Ryan for the World Skills competition to work on their objectives, before the competition in August, next year,” Wanink said. “The 3M Corporation is a very important supporter of WorldSkills competition with a $250,000 contribution to help in this pursuit of excellence.”

Early in the spring, Wanink was asked to serve as the national expert and trainer for the Mechanical Engineering CAD competitor. The finalist was determined at the National Conference. National medalists from the past two years competed for the available spot to represent the United States at WorldSkills 2019.

Ben Campbell, of Idaho, from Northwest Nazarene University, in Nampa, earned this position and will be training with Wanink until August of 2019.

“Our next face-to-face meeting, with the U.S. delegation going to WorldSkills, will be at SkillsUSA National headquarters in Leesburg, Virginia next month, and due to our location much of the training will be ‘virtual,’ as we exchange guides, information on materials, and the like,” Wanink said. “Thanks to 3M’s generous donation to support the U.S. team, there are a few opportunities for Ben and I to meet and also to compete as a guest at other countries’ national contests. This is helpful for us to get used to international competition and cultures. There are 21 students in all on the US WorldSkills team, and I am definitely excited to be a part of it.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Ferris State University's team in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference participated in the 54th annual competition Monday, June 25 through Friday, June 29. (Front row, from left) Brett Bouwens of Cedar Springs; Haven Robinson, of Kingsley; and Jeanette Woolridge, of Pontiac. (Back row, from left) William Cebelak, from Grand Rapids, Ryan O'Grady of Rockford, Ben Tabbert of Interlochen, joining Professor Dan Wanink.