UVU students place among top in nation at SkillsUSA Championships

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Utah Valley University students took home 12 medals and a second place national ranking at this summer’s SkillsUSA Championship.

Nearly 6,000 students from around the country competed in the 49th Annual competition in Kansas City, MO. Students were required to prove their expertise in various trade, technical and management fields through a series of challenges. UVU students won medals in business, computer programming, firefighting, photography and culinary arts.

UVU students have a long history of dominating performances at the SkillsUSA championship.  This was their 13th year to rank in the top three nationally and they were a major force in boosting Utah to rank as the seventh winningest state overall. More than half of Utah schools’ 23 medals were won by UVU.

Photo Courtesy of UVU Marketing & Communications. UVU student Trezor Owens (left) competes in robotics and automation technology at the 49th annual SkillsUSA National Championships in Kansas City, Mo. He and teammate Jason Neely earned a gold medal in their category.
UVU student Trezor Owens (left) competes in robotics and automation technology at the 49th annual SkillsUSA National Championships in Kansas City, Mo. Owens and teammate Jason Neely earned a gold medal in their category. (Photo courtesy UVU Marketing & Communications)

Darin Taylor, UVU’s SkillsUSA director, believes this competition shows that UVU’s programs can compte with any in the country.

“There were institutions from 41 states that did not earn as many national medals as UVU did as an individual institution,” Taylor said. “This speaks volumes about the quality of students, faculty and programs we have here at UVU.”

Industry professionals run the 98 different contests at the competition. This gives students a unique opportunity to showcase their talent for potential future employers.

Tyler Christensen, an automotive technology student at UVU, won the gold medal in power equipment technology.  For him, the competition consisted of 12 different stations that he had to complete. These stations tested him on everything from customer service to diagnosing and repairing machines.

The championship was a good experience for Christensen because it distinguished him from the rest of the field.

“It’s a great thing to have on a resume,” Christensen said. “It really helps you stand out.”

In order to qualify for the championship, students had to demonstrate their skills by competing in school and statewide competitions. The best in the state were then sent on to the national championship in Kansas City.

Rutger Hill, a UVU student studying engineering graphics and design technology, also competed at the championship. This was his second year winning the gold medal in architectural drafting. Over the past two years, he has spent more than 100 hours working to qualify and prepare for the competition.

Hill felt his long hours of hard work finally paid off at the competition.

“It was an eye-opener for the industry and a resume builder as well,” Hill said. “It definitely opened up a couple of job opportunities.”

The theme of the SkillsUSA competition this year was “Champions at work prepared with the skills America needs.”