Dana Jaeger, Christine Larish win gold medal
Dana Jaeger and Christine Larish, students at North Arkansas College were awarded the Gold Medal in the Robotic and Automation Technology Postsecondary Competition at the annual National Leadership and Skills Conference and SkillsUSA Championships. The competition was held at H. Roe Bartle Hall, Municipal Auditorium and American Royal in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 27, 2014.
Dana Jaeger, shown in the photo at left, is a mother of four from Leslie who is working toward earning an Associate of Applied Science in Engineering Technology. Dana says “The hardest part of doing this was getting the courage to compete. To get off the couch and stop watching reality shows. Sometimes all it takes is someone thinking you can. John Levy, our instructor really made the difference in encouraging me to participate.”
Harrison’s Christine Larish is a Northark transfer student who is headed to the University of Arkansas in the fall. When asked about the competition, Christine said “The national competition was super stressful – but amazingly worth it. Everybody should join Skills. I didn’t really think much about it when I signed up, they told me they needed two more names. It is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life”.
The national competition required advanced skill sets and both students felt the pressure of the intense competitive atmosphere. Before them was new equipment that they had not seen before, the task of wiring a conveyer belt, working with a parts feeder and lights. Dana says “It’s like you’ve walked into a job interview. We presented ideas on what we could do for their company regarding automation. Then we dived into programming the equipment. When the time runs out teams are judged on what they’ve accomplished.”
Arkansas had 251 registered competitors, advisors, and observers for the week long conference. There were 131 contestants from both high schools and colleges around the state who competed in 65 contests against the top competitors from the rest of the nation. Arkansas brought home 5 medals – 3 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze. Overall, 13 contestants placed in the Top 5 of their Contests, 15 contestants placed in the Top 10, and 42 contestants placed in the Top 20.
Aaron Hulin, a SkillsUSA Biomedical Electronics Technology student from Hot Springs, AR, served as president of the Arkansas state post-secondary student group. This was a great honor and achievement for the local chapter. Aaron was elected to this position by his peers in the organization. Presidents from each state were responsible for insuring all events during the national competition occurred on-time and in the location scheduled.
The SkillsUSA Championships is considered the largest single of corporate volunteerism in America and valued at $36 million in industry support of donated time, equipment, cash and material. All contests are run by and judged by industry using industry standards for employment. More than 1,000 industry judges participated this year.
All winners receive medallions and frequently receive tools of their trade and/or scholarships to further their careers and education. The SkillsUSA Championships is for high school and college-level student who are members of SkillsUSA. More than 6,000 students from every state and three territories competed in 99 contests in technical, skilled, and service occupations, including health occupations this year. In order to qualify for the national competition, the students competed in state and local contests. The state gold medal winners advanced to the national SkillsUSA Championships.