Students at Washburn University Institute of Technology (Washburn Tech) are among the most skilled in the country and now they have hardware to prove it. Four Washburn Tech competitors won medals at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, which was held June 19-23 in Louisville, Ky. The annual event attracts more than 6,000 students, from around the country, who compete in 100 occupational and leadership skill areas.
The team of Kevin Williams and Paula Carvell, both of Topeka, and Johnathan Kooser, of Ozawkie, won a gold medal in the community service competition, college division. The trio’s project focused on Washburn Tech’s Recycled Rides program, which donates refurbished vehicles to people in need. Joshua Wilhelm, of Holton, won a silver medal in the automotive service technology contest, high school division.
“We are incredibly proud of our students and the instructors who spend countless hours training them,” said Clark Coco, dean, Washburn Tech. “Not only did we win the most medals of any college in Kansas, we placed 29 students in the top ten of their respective contests and 32 students in the top 15. Obviously, it’s a win for our students, instructors and staff. But it is also a win for our community, knowing employees of this caliber are entering the workforce.”
Washburn Tech sent 40 students to this year’s national competition, which is known as the world’s largest showcase of skilled trades. To qualify for the national event, students won a gold medal or placed in the top three in state contests that were held in the spring. Contestants work against the clock and each other while proving their expertise in occupations such as computer technology, cabinetmaking, precision machining, culinary and advertising design.
Washburn Tech offers 38 career programs in one of five divisions: Construction, Health Care, Human Services, Technology and Transportation. Serving both high school and adult students, Washburn Tech has an 82% graduation rate which is the highest in the state among all universities, community colleges and technical institutions.