Competitions test high school students’ technical skills at NMU

U.P. high school students involved in career technical education programs had an opportunity to show off their skills in both construction and welding at two separate competitions Friday in NMU’s Jacobetti Complex. The U.P. Construction Skills Challenge tested students’ building abilities, while the Boilermakers Local 169 Welding Invitational put welding students to the test right next door.

“These types of competitions are very similar to what we might refer to as the playoffs in high school athletics,” Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency CTE director Brian Sarvello said. “This is their opportunity to shine. They’ve trained all year long, hard, just like athletes do. This is their chance to show the public just how talented they are as well.”

Providing real-world experiences for students is an aspect shared by both competitions.

“It’s preparing them for entry-level tests in the so-called real world, so it’s a very good chance if any of them graduate this year, and, say for example, they wanted to go out to North Dakota and try to get a job, they would run into this test, and it would definitely help them get a job, a good job,” Calumet High School welding instructor Eric Rundman said.

“It’s kind of a day in the life of a construction worker,” Tony Retaskie, an organizer of the Construction Skills Challenge, said. “We really practice a lot of safety here, and we want that instilled in the students as they move on to their next career.”

Skills competitions such as these help open students’ eyes to the career paths available in technical fields.

“A lot of the students don’t realize that the trades are out there, and offer a great opportunity,” said Jim Calouette, Area 4 Business Agent for Boilermakers Local 169.

“High school is a great time to try to broaden people’s horizon, and the fact that we have this competition for these high schoolers is amazing,” Hannah Bordinat, President of NMU’s Constructors group said.

“Oh, it’s going to show me how competitive things can get, especially with the career path I was going into, ’cause construction’s a big thing,” Marquette Senior High School construction student Hannah Crampton said.