On Friday, April 28, high school welding students from the DMACC Perry VanKirk Center participated in the ‘Skills USA’ competition in Ankeny. Fifteen students entered in Friday’s competition.

The competition encourages creativity among the students who are given a specific project to create alongside a list of parts they are encouraged to use in the end product.

“They’re making smokers,” Bob Hunt said. “We buy the parts and they start assembling them.”

After purchasing the parts, students are in charge of creating their own designs and later entering the final product in the competition.

“They have to have a blueprint, a design, a presentation and they all have to be involved,” Hunt said.

Each team consisted of three students who each were held accountable for their participation in the project.

Two groups were able to place in the competition: 2nd place - Parker Niemier, Talen Harrison, Dylan Hansen; 3rd place - Jacob Murillo, Ramiro Gubman, Juan Campos.

Groups all designed and later built a smoker with a time-frame of two to three weeks.

“You want it to be functional, but we put our own design in it,” Parker Niemier, Madrid High School student said.

Part-time Director of SkillsUSA, Christopher Creason has been involved in the organization for two years.

“The vastness of the competition and the vastness of the organization they’re trying to accomplish just blew me away,” Creason said. “I just want to say thanks from SkillsUSA for all of the support from local people and from the school districts.”

The SkillsUSA competition caters to two groups: secondary and post-secondary; high school and college students.

The students who placed from the DMACC VanKirk Center were placed in the secondary category because of their high school status.

“They had the smokers,” Creason said. “What it’s doing is getting the students ready [for future jobs].”

Creason believes the competition is essential in today’s society.

“Welding is one of the competitions that is vital this year because of changes in industry and they’re needing welders,” Creason said. “If you’re a good welder then you have a job waiting for you out there.”