KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The SkillsUSA Championship is a combination of a party that spills onto the streets of downtown Kansas City, and some very intense competitions in more than 70 vocational areas, including one devoted to HVACR.

Some 4,225 contestants, 1,300 judges, 400 exhibitors, and others brought the total count to more than 13,000 people, who descended upon the city for four days this summer.

The electrical aspect of residential air conditioning was one of nine components of the HVACR competition.
Several dozen of those exhibitors set up massive displays on a number of city blocks around the Kansas City Convention Center. Music blared from many booths in an attempt to draw the crowd of predominately late teens and 20-somethings to booths showing the latest tools (plus recruitment efforts by various branches of the military).

Inside the convention complex, on the lower level of Bartle Hall, more exhibitors from trade schools, manufacturers, job search firms, job recruiters, insurance companies, and even a prominent maker of motorcycles, set up shop.

In the more serious fare, dozens of seminars focused on all aspects of vocational training. The centerpiece was the day-long national competition that resulted in the awarding of gold, silver, and bronze metals in various contest areas.

Top finishers in the SkillsUSA HVACR competition along with some industry reps pose for a picture. Front, from left, are secondary school winners Kyle L. Wingard, Indian Capital Technology Center, Muskogee, Okla., bronze; Shawn Wasielewski, Career Institute of Technology, Easton, Pa., gold; and Michael Kelly, Southern Nevada Vocational Technical Center, Las Vegas, Nev., silver. Back row, from left, Lynn Bosse, Carrier; postsecondary bronze winner Kenny Beeler, Arkansas Valley Technical Institute, Ozark, Ark.; gold winner Randy Sparaco, Gateway Community College, Phoenix, Ariz.; silver winner Michael Albanese, Heart of Georgia Technical College, Dublin, Ga.; and Rob Dohse of Carrier.

The Winners

The HVACR sector is an integral part of the total competition; 52 winners of local and state HVACR competitions advanced to the nationals.

For eight hours, the contestants rotated among stations dealing with brazing, basic mechanical service, residential air conditioning airflow, electricity, display cases, ice machines, refrigerants, and furnaces.

Those competition areas were staffed by representatives from J.W. Harris, Emerson, Carrier, Lennox, Hussmann, Scotsman, JKL Sales, and Rheem, who also acted as judges. They were assisted in the judging by others from the industry, including a large contingent of Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) members.

Awards were presented to competitors from secondary and postsecondary schools.

In the secondary category, the gold went to Shawn Wasielewski, Career Institute of Technology, Easton, Pa.; silver to Michael Kelly, Southern Nevada Vocational Technical Center, Las Vegas; and bronze to Kyle L. Wingard, Indian Capital Technology Center, Muskogee, Okla.

Proper use of tools and test instruments counted toward a contestant’s final score.
Postsecondary gold went to Randy Sparaco, Gateway Community College, Phoenix; silver to Michael Albanese, Heart of Georgia Technical College, Dublin, Ga.; and bronze to Kenny Beeler, Arkansas Valley Technical Institute, Ozark, Ark.

Winners received tools, test equipment, and work clothing. Schools represented by winners also received training materials.

The HVACR sector had both a volunteer Technical Committee and a National Education Team. The committee included co-chair Rob Dohse, Carrier; co-chair Sherri Wilkerson, Carrier; Larry Banas, Emerson; Lynn Bosse, Lennox; Raymond Granderson, Rheem; James Knutson, Scotsman; Rick LeBeau, JKL Technical Sales; Jerry Meyer, Ingersoll-Rand; Bob Mikell, Carrier; Patrick Murphy, NATE; and Renee Tomlinson, RSES.

The National Education Team consisted of chair Rick Dorssom, Charles Dew, and George Hoeffner, all of Hillyard Technical Center in Missouri.

Contestants tackle a display case to test their skills in refrigeration during the HVACR portion of the competition.
SkillsUSA was supported by the Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute, Amprobe Instruments, A.W. Sperry Institute, Bacharach, Carhartt Inc., Carrier Corp., Channellock, Concept Technology, Copeland Corp., Cooper Instruments, CPS Products, DeWalt Industrial Tool Co., DuPont Chemicals, Emerson Climate Technologies, Fieldpiece Instruments, First Choice Tool, Fluke Corp., Home Depot, Imperial, International Comfort Products, Ironclad Performance Wear, Irwin Industrial Tools, J.B. Industries, Johnson Controls, Johnstone Supply Co., J.W. Harris Co., Key Refrigeration, Klein Tools, Lennox Industries Inc., Leybold Inficon, Malco Products, Mueller Streamline, National Refrigeration, Porter Cable (Pentair), Raytek Corp., RSES, Ritchie Engineering, Robinair, Scotsman Ice, Smith Equipment Co., Stanley Works, Superior Signal Co., Thermal Engineering, TIF Instruments, Turbotorch, Uniweld Products, Uvex Safety, Victor Equipment Co., and Virginia KMP.

In a related competition, recognition was given to the top six finishers in a plumbing event that was organized and co-sponsored by the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association.

In the secondary division, the winners were Robert Lamica of Florence, Mass. (gold); Levi Johnson of Calvin, Pa. (silver); and Kevin Babb, Greer, S.C. (bronze). In the postsecondary division, the top three were Josh Singleton, Taylorsville, Utah (gold); Jack Blankenship III, Landrum, S.C. (silver); and George Lee, Albuquerque, N.M. (bronze).

Peter Powell, refrigeration editor of The News, also served as a judge in the SkillsUSA competition.

Publication date: 08/02/2004