KANSAS CITY, Mo. — SkillsUSA’s 47th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference shone a light on the nation’s best and brightest in various trades in Kansas City, Mo., June 19. The International Training Institute (ITI), the education arm of the unionized sheet metal and air conditioning industry, partnered with SkillsUSA to raise awareness of the ITI, with 3,000 students competing in the building trade categories on the high school and college levels.

Olivia Keech won gold in the high school sheet metal category — the second gold award for Delcastle Technical High School in Newark, Del. For the competition, the high school junior completed a written test and constructed a fitting.

“They said because I’m a junior I shouldn’t expect anything,” Olivia said. “You’re supposed to go get the experience (at the competition), go back as a senior and win. But I won, so I can come back next year and try to do it all again.”

As the only girl in her sheet metal class at school, Olivia was aware she was a minority in the competition. Only two females competed in the nationwide sheet metal competition. Olivia credits her teacher, John Fitzgerald, for helping her succeed.

“I figured out how special it was when people got excited (when I won),” she added. “I hope more girls come into the sheet metal trade.”

In the high school sheet metal category, aside from Olivia’s gold win, Hunter Crook of Monroe, N.C., earned the silver and Alec Higgins of Jefferson, Iowa, took home the bronze. In the college/post-secondary group, John Halwix of Elgin, Ill., received the gold award; Allen Travelstead of Fitzgerald, Ga., earned the silver; and Derek Daufeldt of Bettendorf, Iowa, took the bronze.

In the high school team welding fabrication category, Jared Martinez, Brennan Clelland and Joshua Ellrod of Farmington, N.M., earned the gold award; Skeeter Judd, Aaron Jamerman, and Joe Lake of Douglas, Wy., took the silver; and Kyle Alexander, Mason Hart, and John Stratz of Cottonwood, Ariz., earned the bronze. In the college/post-secondary group, Austin Welch, Mike Montoya, and Joseph Fournier of Price, Utah, earned the gold award; Boaz Millar, Stephen Millar, and Ricky Lovell of Sallisaw, Okla., took the silver; and Ryan Dauel, Brandon Versnon, and Lucas Boshart of Lincoln, Neb., won the bronze.

In the high school welding category, Tim Saxton of Cambridge, Minn. , earned the gold award; Kaleb Parsch of Attica, Mich., won the silver; and Evan Vogler of Petersburg, Ind., took the bronze. In the college/post-secondary group, Spartak Matvyeyenko of Sacramento, Calif., earned the gold award; Blake Parks of Torrington, Wy., took the silver; and Micah Hoover of Williamsport, Pa., received the bronze.

For more information, visit www.skillsusa.org or www.sheetmetal-iti.org.

Publication date: 09/12/2011