Young builders compete in Construction Skills Challenge

MARQUETTE — Learning a skilled trade takes a long time, and many people start practicing as early as high school. Some of these youngsters went to NMU’s Jacobetti Complex to put their skills to the test.

Students from eight different schools across the U.P. got together for the Upper Peninsula Construction Skills Challenge. In teams of five, the students work together to build a structure—this year, a garden shed.

“Well this event is an opportunity for high school students to showcase their building and construction skills in a competition that they can take a trophy back to their school and say, ‘We won this competition.’ It’s really a neat event for students across the Upper Peninsula,” said Tony Retaskie. Retaskie is the Executive Director of the Upper Peninsula Construction Council, who helped coordinate the competition.

The students are judged on workmanship, teamwork, safety, and electrical wiring. The team who wins takes home a big trophy made by high schoolers in a carpenters apprenticeship program in the U.P.

“Some of the things we’re hoping they take away from the end of the competition, obviously the trophy and maybe some prizes, but one of the things we really hope for is the ability to work in a team in a pressure setting where they have to construct a project by the end of the day, hopefully, and they have to do it safely,” added Retaskie.

“I’d say it’s a good skill, you know, it’ll save you money in the long run, you can do your own stuff, and I guess you could help a lot of people out,” said Josh Downs, a senior at Marquette Senior High School.

“You get to meet a lot of new people and stuff and you get hands on work,” added Melissa Duvall, who is a junior at Superior Central.

Whether they win or not, today’s competition is a great way to hammer home some really useful skills.

The competition is hosted by Northern Michigan University. The materials are paid for by generous donations from sponsors around the U.P.

The winners of the skills challenge were announced. In third place was Munising, Westwood took second, and in first place was Dickinson-Iron ISD.