Topeka, Kan. – Joshua Wilhelm, a Washburn Tech student and Holton High School senior, believes his training at Washburn Tech is preparing him to excel as an automotive service technician. Now, he has a gold medal to prove it after winning first place at SkillsUSA Kansas.
“In the competition, we diagnosed electrical problems, made measurements and compared them to specifications, determined if parts could be reused and had a job interview,” said Wilhelm. “By winning first place, I am the best automotive service student in Kansas. I think that looks good to employers and I feel I’ll be able to perform well as an employee.”
Wilhelm’s award is one of 89 medals won by Washburn Tech students who competed in the state competition in April. Washburn Tech’s hardware count includes 44 gold medals, 26 silver medals and 19 bronze awards. In addition, several other honors were announced including: Wilhelm, recipient of the EJ Bock Scholarship; Kendra Gatzemeyer, Washburn Tech cosmetology student, recipient of a SkillsUSA Scholarship; John Lemon, Washburn Tech cabinet/millwork instructor, named 2017 College Post-Secondary Advisory of the Year; and Washburn Tech won a gold award for membership increase. Washburn Tech had the most competitors of any college in Kansas with 115 students competing in 173 state contests.
Gold medal winners, from each state, will compete in SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Ky. In June. The event, which attracts more than 16,000 students, teachers and business partners, showcases career and technical education students from around the country. Contestants work against the clock and each other while proving their expertise in occupations such as computer technology, cabinetmaking, precision machining, culinary arts and advertising design.
“This year’s SkillsUSA state competitions were remarkable. We went with a goal of breaking our record of 60 medals, but in typical Washburn Tech fashion, we raised the bar again and delivered nearly 30 additional medals,” said David Praiswater, building technology instructor and SkillsUSA chapter advisor, Washburn Tech. “We have had many pleasant surprises over the years, but this has been the biggest by far. I anticipate some really good performances from our students at the national level this year.”
Washburn Tech offers 38 career programs in one of five divisions: Construction, Health Care, Human Services, Technology and Transportation. Short-term, continuing education courses also are available along with custom courses for business and industry. Washburn Tech, which serves both high school and adult students, has an 82% graduation rate which is the highest in the state among all universities, community colleges and technical institutions.