Five Ridgewater Welding, Automotive students qualify for SkillsUSA nationals
June 4, 2021
HUTCHINSON and WILLMAR, MN – Five Ridgewater College Warriors became Minnesota SkillsUSA champions recently during the virtual and remote 2021 SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference held in late spring throughout the state due to the pandemic.
Four Welding and one Automotive Service Technology students earned the right to compete nationally in June, thanks to their success in Minnesota. They celebrated their accomplishments at a virtual celebration on May 1.
Welding students from both Willmar and Hutchinson campuses competed, earning golds in team and individual competitions, as well as a silver and a couple of bronze awards. Warrior champions include the fabrication team of Brad Anderson (Sunburg), Donald Gapinski and Luke Tollefson (both of Maple Lake) with their creation of a job box for storing welding tools and equipment to keep them safe from weather and theft.
In addition, in the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) divisions, Ridgewater Warrior Levi Johnson of Dassel-Cokato High School earned gold for individual welding and Warrior Eric Point (Buffalo High School) earned gold in the Automotive Service Technology competition.
Michael Kastner (Sanborn) took second-place silver for his vehicle sculpture called “Smoke N Mirrors”, which included two antique cars, one pulling a trailer with a motorcycle. Bronze winners included Michael Dietz (Glencoe) for his eagle sculpture and Ridgewater PSEO student Austin Otto, (Lester Prairie High School) for individual welding in the PSEO division.
The pandemic added a new challenge for participants. Due to continued pandemic health and safety concerns, most events were held in either remote, hybrid or a submission-style format, with only a few activities occurring fully in-person with limited numbers. For the Welding fabrication team, students still practiced prior to event day, but actual competition meant they were able to complete their project on home turf under the same time and supplies guidelines before submitting it for judging. For the Automotive competition, it meant industry experts recorded Point’s activity for submission to judges.
Ridgewater Automotive Service instructor Jon Friton commended Point. “Eric has been a standout student who came to us eager to learn with a good attitude. He is very deserving of the gold prize.”
Nearly 400 career and technical education high school and college students competed in 48 different hands-on trade, technical and leadership events. Many also received partner-donated prizes and scholarships. Nationals will be held virtually and remotely in June.
For more information about Ridgewater College’s Welding and Automotive Service Technology programs, call 800-722-1151 or go to www.ridgewater.edu/academics.