Students bring home the gold at SkillsUSA

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Jeanette Blain | News Editor | [email protected]

Photo credit: Jim McCulloch


UVU students won medals in 13 different categories at this year’s SkillsUSA National Championships. The event was held in Louisville, Ky., at the annual National Skills and Leadership Conference (NSLC), June 22-26.

With over 100 competition categories, the SkillsUSA National Championships are known as the Olympics for students in trade, technical and skilled-service programs. Each year, students from across the country try to win a place on the NSLC winner’s podium.

Darin Taylor, UVU SkillsUSA director, said you can name an occupation, from bricklaying to dental assisting, and that occupation has a contest at NSLC.

Medals won by UVU students include gold medal awards in architectural drafting, audio/radio production, cabinetmaking, engineering technology/design, industrial motor control, related technical math, robotics and automation technology; silver medal awards for carpentry, commercial baking, medical math, pin design and technical drafting; and a bronze medal award for chapter business procedure.

With these results, the school was ranked first place at the college and university level for the second year in a row. As a single school, UVU went home with more awards than most competing states.

UVU has consistently ranked in the top three for the last fifteen years.

Students begin vying for a spot at the nationals as early as January. Competition starts at the school level and progresses to a state competition. One winner (individual or team) in each category then moves on from the state finals to the NSLC competitions.

Taylor said, “When you get to nationals, it’s the best against the best.”

UVU student Justin Lewis took third place last year in cabinetmaking. This year he returned to take the gold medal in the same category.

“Just making it to the national competition feels like a major accomplishment, but to win gold at nationals—it’s amazing. This has greatly boosted my confidence as a woodworker, as a student and as a professional,” Lewis said.

Students are only allowed to compete in a single category for two years, but they can come back and compete in a different category after that.

The NSLC can be an important proving ground for students wanting an edge in the professional world.

“The competitions are traditionally put together by industry, and judged by industry. So, the folks that are out there hiring our students are the ones putting on the contests,” Taylor said.

He said the number of awards won by UVU shows that the school’s programs are right in line with industry advancements and standards.

In addition to gold, silver and bronze medals students can also win other awards, from gift cards to laptops and occupational tools. Students in certain categories can also gain internships, scholarships and even offers of employment.