U.P. Construction Skills Challenge

Today, High School students from across the U.P. put down their books and picked up a hammer to compete in this year’s Construction Skills Challenge.


Teams competed for the coveted traveling trophy

The day–long competition tested participants’ carpentry skills in a practical setting. Teams of five were given a set of blueprints to work off of, but the rest was up to them.

This year’s project was a Sauna Building to be used in conjunction with Finn Fest. Judges scored teams on a variety factors including accuracy, quality, precision, safety, and most importantly teamwork.

“Back at their schools, they teach them how to work together as a team. And just like out in the field, the better you work as a team, the better off you’re usually going to be. We see the teams that communicate well. They put some of their team on one task, while another part is doing something else,” said Brian Kerrigan, an Event Coordinator and Judge.

The challenge also helps create a pipeline for kids interested in the construction trade, by giving them the hands-on experience they need to compete in today’s economy. The event was started eight years ago with the intention of giving students who don’t participate in sports a chance to compete in their favorite field while contending for a trophy of their own.

“We think today’s competition is a great opportunity for a young person to look at construction as not just a job, but a career. And this is a segue way into that career. The students that I’ve talked to today are really excited about today’s competition. There’s some first year competitors and they’re really excited to try and take home this trophy that we have,” noted Tony Retaskie, Co-Chair of the Construction Skills Challenge.

This year, top honors went to the Dickinson-Iron team, resulting in their 3rd straight trip to the winner’s circle. Ontonagon and another Dickinson-Iron team rounded out the 2nd and 3rd spot respectively, bringing home individual medals and prizes. If you or your child is interested in participating, contact your school counselor or administrator to see if they can sign up your school.