They’ve got skills

Student Jared Hawkins wins a gold medal at the SkillsUSA competition for his work in screen printing. And recent graduate Nathan Jackson wins gold for his carpentry. Jake Buntjer/UVU Review

At this year’s SkillsUSA National Championship, students displayed their aptitude in a variety of skill sets and came out on top, winning ten medals, which included two gold medals, six silver and two bronze.

The competition consisted of 96 possible categories with 5,600 students participating. It was a significant accomplishment that UVU was able to place in ten categories, though not unexpected.

“In the last ten years, we’ve been number one, two and three in the nation. We go there expecting to do well each year,” said Darin Taylor, department chair of Engineering Graphics and Design Technology and director of SkillsUSA for UVU.

Gold medal winners Nathan Jackson and Jared Hawkins, along with the other medalists, helped make it possible for UVU as an institution to rank number three in the nation.

Jackson, who has his associate’s in building construction and graduated with his bachelor’s in technology management in April, received a gold medal for his work in carpentry.

“We had a written test the day before, and then spent an eight hour day and basically built a miniature house, it helped that I sfinished in the allotted time,” said Jackson.

Hawkins, a senior in graphic design, learned about the competition and was urged to participate by a past instructor, Phillip Ah You. Before Hawkins earned his gold medal in screen printing, he also had the opportunity to take part in the annual T-shirt and pin design contest, and his winning design was worn by all Utah students at the national competition.

“I’m not really competitive, though sometimes I think that’s to my advantage, because it took a lot of pressure off,” Hawkins said.

A relief in pressure would be very helpful in a competition like this, as many of the projects took seven or eight hours to complete.

“Professionals in each category come in and design a problem, and no one knows what it will be coming in, the students have to just come in and solve it in eight hours. But the cream will rise to the top and be able to handle it,” Taylor said.

With the numerous possible categories, this was a wonderful opportunity for students from all walks of life to show what they do best. Earlier this year, students competed against their classmates for a spot at the state level. And the top competitors from the state had the chance to move on to nationals and put their skills to the test against the best in the country.

“I can’t think of a better bullet item on your resume than placing in the national competition. It’s a great resume builder. Many professionals will even offer students a job on the spot,” Taylor said.

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