Engineering Paradise: Engineering Club to Attend SkillsUSA


Students work on their entires at the SkillsUSA competition. Photos Courtesy of Gabe Blumenfeld

Meredith Bill, staff writer

The Engineering Club attended the SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference April 27 -29 in Peoria, Illinois, Justin Zummo, Engineering Club sponsor, said. If the team is victorious in one of the 11 events, they will move on to nationals, Zummo said. 

From firefighting to nail art, building an engine, or t-shirt design, the competition covers a wide range of designs students can pursue, Zummo said. The SkillsUSA conference holds competitions for middle school, high school, and college level students, Zummo said. He said the conference is a creator’s paradise, holding competitions in almost every job category or engineering skill out there. 

“We have students doing additive manufacturing, which is 3D printing and design,” Zummo said. “We [also] have kids doing mobile robotics,  extemporaneous speeches. The idea is that we’re giving them a platform to showcase their skills.”

Students compete solo, in pairs, or in groups of three depending on the category, Zummo said. The students use teamwork to get their ideas in motion and showcase their creative talent in a broad selection of competitions, Zummo said.

“Giving [students]  an opportunity to shine, that’s really the biggest thing for me,” Zummo explained. “Why I go and put all this together and organize it is to give them an opportunity to showcase what they’re good at.”

To register for a space at the conference, participants must take a qualifying exam in their desired field of competition, in which junior Jaki Erdene, scored first place in the circuit component test, Zummo said. Erdene is participating in the conference for the first time this year and is excited to demonstrate his skills, Erdene said. 

Junior Ashley Wojtkowski is participating with a partner in the career competitions category, in which students present original projects, Wojtkowski explained. 

“Our project is kind of like a third eye for the blind,” Wojtkowski said. “It’s a sensor for people who are blind.  We’re thinking of doing a strap [or] maybe [it will be] a hat or an ankle monitor, something on your hand — something that’s lightweight that’s going to be convenient for the user.” 

The Engineering Club is confident in their entries and are enthusiastic about their diverse projects and categories of participation, Zummo said. One important factor about the conference is the connections the students make with other competitors and engineers.

“A lot of people that are running these events are experts in their field,” Zummo said. “With that, they’re going to create some connections and exchange information, they all bring a resume with them.” 

Like Erdene, Wojtkowski is also participating in the conference for the first time and is eager to compete, Wojtkowski said.

“For me, it’s just [about] being introduced into a new environment and kind of seeing what everything’s about and getting to work with all the other students,” Wojtkowski said.