NTU Soars at NM SkillsUSA CompetitionApr 24th, 2015 | By tcj | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
Sixty-two Navajo Technical University (NTU) students, competing individually or in teams, took top honors at the NM SkillsUSA championships held in Albuquerque, New Mexico April 9-11. At the showcase of career and technical education students, NTU competed with other higher education institutions from across the state in hands-on trade, technical, and leadership skills contests. The students worked against the clock and each other to validate their expertise in their chosen occupational areas.
Industrial engineering major Adriane Tenequer was named student president of NM SkillsUSA. She was the first NTU student to serve as president at the state level. “I passed a panel interview and training at the national SkillsUSA competitions in Kansas City in 2014,” she recalls. “After I graduate, I plan to start my own business in Crownpoint.”
Teacher education major, Marell Charley, racked up her second gold medal at this year’s competition. She plans to become a history teacher upon graduating, stating, “From competing last year, I knew to bring all the materials I needed to plan my lesson and create everything on-the-spot to do my teaching demo, and sure enough I won again.”
Digital manufacturing major, Vernon Kaye, also took home gold from the competition. “I was on a two-man team that competed in the additive manufacturing event for which we used a 3-D printer to create an adaptor for a robot arm.” Kaye’s team helped to introduce their event to the state competitions. “I like SkillsUSA competition because you apply your learning from scratch,” Kaye says, adding, “We were tested for our project, and I had to learn how to adapt to the tools I was provided, like a 3-D printer that was smaller than what I was used to, and I had to figure out how to downsize my product to fit.” Kaye, who expects to graduate in spring 2016, explains, “SkillsUSA stresses professionalism, right down to what you have to wear, so you have to step up in every way.”
Meanwhile, in the Teamworks category, which involved building construction, Calvin Price, an energy systems major, described how his event stretched over nearly two days. “On Wednesday, we met with the judges, reviewed the project plans, got interviewed, then on Thursday, we built from the plans from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Friday, we were judged,” he reports. Price, who is vice-president of the NTU Skills chapter, says, “I worked on the plumbing part of the project, while my teammates each had their own parts to work on.” Price will graduate from NTU this May and will continue at Arizona State University where he will study sustainable energy.
Tenequer, Charley, Kaye, and Price, together with 33 total NTU gold medalists, will all travel to the national SkillsUSA competitions in Louisville, Kentucky in June. The students identified “networking, learning from others, and preparing to be challenged” as what they look forward to at the national level. Kaye states, “NTU has one of the largest memberships in a SkillsUSA chapter,” adding, “There’s talk about getting the Navajo Nation recognized as a ‘state’ among the other states that compete. This would allow for the Navajo Nation to hold its own round of competitions similar to what the NM SkillsUSA does.”
Tenequer enthused, “An NTU student designed a special pin this year that includes the Navajo Nation seal; we will trade the pins with students from other states.” She adds, “I have learned so much from everyone connected with SkillsUSA, including the students, the chapter advisors, and the judges.” This year, President Tenequer was onstage when her NTU Skills chapter advisor, Julie Bales, also a communications instructor, won a bronze medal for her role as a student advisor.
In the audience, an NTU group of over 70 individuals had plenty of opportunities to cheer and clap each time that one in their group walked the stage to receive a medal. Robert Witte, co-advisor for the NTU Skills chapter and a culinary arts instructor, proudly proclaims, “The 2015 NTU Skills group is the best ever.”