But for the 53 contestants a few aisles over in the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration contest, the focus was on servicing power-consuming equipment in the best way to ensure that the HVACR mechanicals were as energy efficient as possible, regardless of what was generating the power to run them.
For seven hours the contestants rotated among testing stations involving brazing, refrigeration component service, air measurement and troubleshooting, refrigerant recovery, and electrical troubleshooting. Two days before, they sat down to take an exam for several hours that was similar in content to the Industry Competency Exam (ICE).
The competitions in HVACR and the 93 other categories were just one part of the 47th National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo. It is a week-long event to showcase the value of vocational training. The competition was surrounded by workshops, seminars, and exhibits, the latter of which went down several long corridors in both Bartle Hall and the Conference Center as well as spilling out onto a couple of blocked off streets in downtown Kansas City. Exhibitors included tool and equipment manufacturers, colleges, the military, as well as those geared to specific vocations.
In all more than 5,500 persons took part in the contests with more than 14,000 persons in some way involved in the week including 2,500 SkillsUSA advisors, 1,100 judges and some 500 persons staffing 134 exhibit booths.
In his comments to attendees, Timothy Lawrence, SkillsUSA executive director, noted the organization has grown to 320,000 members. He said, “By being a part of this national event, you have joined a very special group — the best of technical education in America.
“Students are here because of their skill, attitude and dedication to excellence,” he said. “Always keep in mind that the best isn’t always found in the largest or most spectacular. It is found in those who commit to always do better in their own performances and through service to others.”
Competitions resulted in gold, silver and bronze medals being awarded as was the case in HVACR. At the high school level the winners were Jeffrey Nelson, Pathfinder Vo Tech, Palmer, Mass., gold; Christopher Kuhn, Lorain County JVS, Oberlin, Ohio, silver; and Bradly Higdon, Earnest Pruett Center of Technology, Hollywood, Ala., bronze. In the college/postsecondary category the awards went to Connor Stidham, College of Southern Nevada-Henderson, Henderson, Nev., gold; Robert Scott, Elizabethtown, Ky., Technical College, silver; and Andrew Beckman, Northeast Community College, Norfolk, Neb., bronze.
In the official Awards and Recognition Publication of SkillsUSA, the following were recognized:
Technical Committee: Co-chair Lynn Bosse, Lennox Industries; Co-chair Bob Mikell, Carrier Corp.; Larry Banas, Emerson Climate Services LLC; Mike Eckstein, Refrigeration Service Engineers Society; Bob Henson, Harris Products Group; Les Karcher, Carrier Corp.; David King, Lennox Industries; Rick Lebeau, JKL Technical Sales; Warren Lupson, Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute; Jerry Meyer, Hussmann Refrigeration/Ingersoll Rand; and Patrick Murphy, North American Technician Excellence.
National education team: Chair Rick Dorssom, Hillyard Technical Center (Kan.); James Hanway, Northland Career Center (Mo.); George Hoeffner, Hillyard; Todd Huxford, South Central College (Minn.); and James Tankersley, Altamaha Technical College (Ga.).