Several students at Kishwaukee College will get to show off their technical skills in a national contest next month.
Skills USA is an organization for students enrolled in technical programs including welding or nursing. Every year, the group holds competitions that give those students an opportunity to showcase their talents in events like mock crime scenes or repairing a dent in a car.
This year, six Kishwaukee College students -- Tim Stewart from Franklin Grove, in Power Equipment Technology; Jacob Felz from Dixon, in Technical Drafting/CAD; Alex Romanelli from Chicago, in Customer Service; and the team of Ashely Heithoff from DeKalb, Darby Fisher from Sycamore, and Xica McClain from DeKalb in Crime Scene Investigation -- were first-place winners at the state level in categories like Crime Scene Investigation and Power Equipment Technology.
“So where the students are that compete in Scholastic Bowl and stuff like that, career-tech students – if it wasn’t for Skills USA – wouldn’t have any place to really compete and showcase, you know, the talents and skills they have learned,” Greg Brink, a collision repair instructor at Kishwaukee College and the school’s Skills USA advisor, said.
Brink says companies like Harley-Davidson and DuPont scout students at the national competition for jobs.
“They want to hire these students that are in these career-tech programs because they know, you know, they’re competing here at nationals; they’re, like, the best in the nation,” Brink said. “In fact, they’re, like the top four percent in the country in career and technical education.”
Brink says no Kish students have won first place at nationals so far. In the meantime, Brink says the Kish students will continue to practice until they head to the Louisville national contest at the end of June.