UVU has once again shown its strength in the trades, ranking second in the nation at the recent SkillsUSA Championships in Kansas City, Mo. Top students from UVU competed in 20 contest categories, bringing home six gold medals, two silver medals and five bronze medals, with students ranking in the top 15 contestants of the remaining seven categories.

SkillsUSA is an organization of more than 300,000 members from high schools, colleges and universities across all 50 states and four United States territories. Students receive specialized training in their trade of study and compete on local and state levels in order to reach the national championships. Only the winners of the state competitions are invited to participate at the Championships in Kansas City, which means that competitors represent the top 2 percent of the pool of trades students in the nation. There are 93 different competition categories, ranging from cosmetology to firefighting and everything between. Competitors are given a problem that they must solve in their field of expertise and are then judged on their solutions by experienced professionals in that same field.

“The Championships are held in a convention center with 16 football fields of floor space,” said Darin Taylor, professor of engineering graphics and design technology at UVU and director of the University’s SkillsUSA program. “It’s pretty overwhelming to walk out onto that floor. There are lots of noises, lots of aromas and smells — it’s just an overload of your senses to see the cream of the crop competing in all of these different areas.”

UVU has been competing in the SkillsUSA Championships since 1972, and has won medals ever since it began. Over the past eight years, the university has ranked in the top two post-secondary institutions in the United States. For the 2008 Championships, UVU earned more medals than any other school in Utah and brought home 36 percent of the total medals won by Utah students.

“These students are absolutely fabulous,” Taylor said. “I am always impressed with the professionalism of our students and how well they represent our state and institution.”

Gold medalists at the championships were Adam Banks of Oak City, Utah, and Isaac Nordlund of Orem, Utah, who competed in 3-D visualization and animation; Albert Mitchell from Pleasant Grove, Utah, and Gary Sevison of Orem, Utah, in audio production; Shane Foerster of Orem, Utah, David Furr of Orem, Utah, Kamilyn Furr of Orem, Utah, Brittany Lewis of Orem, Utah, Jared Lewis of Springville, Utah, and Whitney Orton from Highland, Utah, in chapter business procedure; Jennnifer Schroeder from Salt Lake City, Utah, in job skill demonstration; Richard Martin from Santaquin, Utah, in plumbing and Doug Nordin from Orem, Utah, and Colton Tran from Layton, Utah, in television video production.

Silver medalists were Chase Nielsen from Provo, Utah, in firefighting and Cody Hamblin from Delta, Utah, in job interview.

Bronze medalists were Matt Henke from Delta, Utah, in cabinetmaking; Tim Robinson from Lehi, Utah, in first aid CPR; Vinicius Carvalheiro from Springville, Utah, and Robert Simons from Provo, Utah, in mechatronics; Dan Rieske from Lehi, Utah, and James Thayne from Highland, Utah, in robot and automation technology and Bradley Trinnaman from Highland, Utah, in screen printing technology.

Other top-fifteen finishes were Tanya Quinn from Heber City, Utah, who ranked fourth in food and beverage service; Paul Farnsworth of Provo, Utah, who ranked fifth in related technical math; Jared Davis from Provo, Utah, who ranked sixth in architectural drafting; Blake Woffinden of Provo, Utah, who ranked seventh in automotive service technology; Tanner Thompson of South Jordan, Utah, who ranked eighth in diesel equipment technology; Brett Bristow from Orem, Utah, who ranked 13th in extemporaneous speaking and Rick Suchoski from South Jordan, Utah, who ranked 15th in culinary arts.