Students head to SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference

06.06.2014 | By Andrea Vasquez

Six students will represent San Jacinto College and the state of Texas at the upcoming 50th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC) in Kansas City, Mo., June 23 – 27.

SkillsUSA programs include local, state and national competitions in which students demonstrate
occupational and leadership skills. SkillsUSA programs also help to establish industry standards for job skill training in the lab and classroom, and promote community service. More than 300,000 students and advisors join SkillsUSA annually, organized into more than 17,000 sections and 52 state and territorial associations.

Cosmetology student Trisha McCurdy; engineering design graphics students James Ross, Van Truong, and Richard Hermoso; speech student Patrick Doig; and automotive student Ryan Nelson, will all represent Texas competing in their respective areas. This year at the state competition, San Jacinto College students won 21 medals in all, including four gold, 14 silver, and three bronze.

“I love working with so many diverse individuals,” said McCurdy, who placed second in opening and closing ceremonies and quiz bowl, and has also been elected as a SkillsUSA state officer for the upcoming academic year. “I worked in accounting for 15 years, and I decided that I wanted to go back to school to do something I enjoyed that made people feel good about themselves.” McCurdy was also requested to be an additional member to the team that took first place in opening and closing ceremonies, the first time a team will have students from two institutions representing the state of Texas.

“We are looking forward to incorporating more of our technical programs in SkillsUSA,” said Dana Belt, San Jacinto College cosmetology instructor and SkillsUSA regional director for Texas. “This year we started a SkillsUSA club on the South Campus, and we had HVAC and auto collision repair students compete at the state competition.”

Patrick Doig, also advancing to nationals, placed first in prepared speech. Doig’s speech discusses the importance of educated and skilled workers to the economic success of America. “My speech focuses on three points,” said Doig. “If parents fail to educate their children: food resources will deplete to the point of poverty as a nation; government will fall apart; and medical facilities will be worthless.”

Three engineering design graphics (EDG) students also took first place with their cell phone dryer device. Rob Ross, Richard Hermoso, and Van Truong worked together to create the device after Ross got the idea from his fiancé. After dropping her phone in the toilet, she tried drying it out by putting her phone in a bag of rice. When this failed, Ross searched online only finding one device on the market. “I couldn’t believe there was only one thing out there that said it could dry out cell phones,” said Ross. “After looking at it more, the three of us came up with other ideas and felt we could make something better.”

“We figured out that if we combined a de-humidifier, to draw out air currents, and heat using a hair dryer, to evaporate the water, you could dry out the phone a lot quicker and easier with little to no damage to the phone’s technology,” said Troung.

Hermoso, a mechanical drafting and auto collision repair student, used auto body repair processes to help piece the drying device together. After creating a schematic of the device, he used auto collision fabrication and resurfacing techniques to create the control housings and device covers. “I see auto body repair more as a hobby,” he said. “If I hadn’t taken the classes I have so far, I wouldn’t have prepared the device properly.” Both Hermoso and Ross were on last year’s EDG team who placed third at nationals for their improved video camera harness for law enforcement K-9 units.

EDG professors and SkillsUSA faculty advisors, William Buel and Mary Ann Blake, are looking forward to watching their students compete at nationals. “Richard and Rob were great in helping this year’s team prepare for state, and now nationals, so it will be exciting to watch them present at the national level again,” said Buel. “It was very rewarding to see our students competing at a state level and get the opportunity to connect with them outside the classroom,” said Blake, a first-time SkillsUSA faculty advisor. “The whole Skills USA state competition environment successfully allows students to associate with other Texas college students who are learning the same topics.”

Automotive technology instructor David Castillo is excited to see Nelson representing Texas in the automotive service technology national completion. “I had a gut feeling that Ryan was going to win this year,” he said. “Last year he placed second in the state SkillsUSA competition, and the year before when he was in high school, he placed second in the high school SkillsUSA state competition.”

The SkillsUSA NLSC will be held June 23 – 27 in Kansas City, Mo., with nearly 6,000 career and technical education students - all state contest winners - competing in more than 98 different trade, technical, and leadership fields. Students work against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations like electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting and culinary arts. Leadership contestants will demonstrate skills including extemporaneous speaking and conducting meetings by parliamentary procedure. Contests are run with the help of industry, trade associations, and labor organizations, and test competencies are set by industry. The competitions will be open to the public and free of charge.

Pictured left to right: (Top) William Buel, San Jacinto College engineering design graphics professor; Patrick Doig; and Richard Hermoso. (Middle) Mary Ann Blake, San Jacinto College engineering design graphics professor and Rob Ross. (Bottom) Dana Belt, San Jacinto College cosmetology instructor; Trisha McCurdy; and Van Truong. Not pictured: Ryan Nelson. Photo credit: Andrea Vasquez, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.


About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.

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