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Washtenaw students dominate 2009 SkillsUSA competition

Washtenaw students dominate 2009 SkillsUSA competition

J. MICHEAL COLLINS

Staff Writer

Andrew Smith

J. MICHEAL COLLINS WASHTENAW VOICE

Washtenaw Community College students walked off with 29 awards, including 11 for first place, in the state SkillsUSA Championships last month in Lansing. The SkillsUSA Championships is the showcase for the best career and technical students in the nation, where contests begin locally and continue through the state and national levels. In 2009, the national competition hosted more than 5,400 contestants in 91 separate events. Nearly 1,500 judges and contest organizers from labor and management made the event possible. WCC competed in—and dominated—several categories, including Auto Body (Collision repair and Refinishing), Auto Service, Construction, Mobile Electronics, Motorcycle Service and Welding. One of the many decorated students in this year’s state competition was Andrew Smith, 20, of Saline, who competed in the construction portion of the competition and took first-place honors. “One state coordinator remarked that Smith was the best carpenter he had seen come through the competition in a long time,” said Cristy Lindemann, chair of the Construction Programs Department. Smith is now headed to the national competition, along with several other first-place winners from WCC. “I’ve always been interested in construction,” Smith said. “I started working for a builder when I was 13 years old.” Smith, along with other first place winners from each category, will represent WCC at the national competition in Kansas City, Mo., June 21-26, where Lindemann describes the competitors as the cream of the crop. She readily admits that she has confidence in Smith, who scored 100 points higher than anyone else in the state competition in the construction category. “The competition is about understanding how much work you have to do and the amount of time,” Lindemann said, “and not doing the regular construction schedule, but looking at what they are going to give you points for, and doing that first. “The thing I’m proudest of is when we were there in Lansing, my students all had their tool belts on and they were ready to go. They looked so professional.” Lindemann says she eventually wants to get the some parts of the construction program OSHA certified so that students can receive their OSHA cards when they complete the program. Smith admits that while he likes the program, and has learned a lot, he thinks there are a few things he could teach the instructors as well. He enrolled in the construction program in the spring of 2008 and plans to be done sometime next year. He has already started his own business.

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