Lehigh Valley SkillsUSA Students Spotlighted on National Stage

By Colin McEvoy on July 15, 2022

Eighteen students from the regional SkillsUSA District 11 participated in the National Leadership & Skills Conference. (photo courtesy SkillsUSA)

The Lehigh Valley was well represented at SkillsUSA’s annual National Leadership & Skills Conference (NLSC), a showcase of career and technical education students from across the country and an opportunity to compete for a gold medal on the national stage..

Eighteen students from the regional SkillsUSA District 11 traveled to Atlanta, Ga. to participate in the 2022 NLSC, and six of them brought home medals in three competitions.

“The SkillsUSA National Conference is an unbelievable opportunity for our students to not only showcase their technical skills, but also further their interpersonal skills,” said Andy Hammer, SkillsUSA Council Executive Director. “They are able to network with students and industry leaders from across the country.”

District 11 is represented by students from five career and technical centers, including the Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School (BAVTS), Career Institute of Technology (CIT), Lehigh Career and Technical Institute (LCTI), Monroe Career & Technical Institute (MCTI), and Upper Bucks County Technical School (UBCTS).

The conference was held from June 20 to June 24, and the championship event provided a unique opportunity for some of the most talented career and technical education students in the area to showcase their skills.

“I was impressed with how our students carried themselves during the entire conference.  Overall, we were very satisfied with all of the competition results,” Hammer said. “These students are a shining example of the benefits of career and technical education.”

During each competition, students work against the clock to prove their expertise in occupations such as electronics, marine service technology, precision machining, plumbing and related technical math, Hammer said.

Contests were run with the help of industry, trade associations, and labor organizations. The philosophy of the championships is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance, and to keep training relevant to employers’ needs.

The event competitions occupied a space equivalent to 31 football fields or 41 acres. There were more than 6,500 contestants in 108 separate events. Nearly 2,000 judges and contest organizers from labor and management made the national event possible.

Results including students representing District 11 were:

  • Collision Damage Estimating (1st Place): Landen Rex (LCTI/Northwestern Lehigh High School)
  • Marine Service Technology (2nd Place): Brayden Arnold (LCTI/Northern Lehigh High School)
  • TeamWorks (3rd Place): Cody Trauger (BAVTS/Liberty High School); Noah Wolfel (BAVTS/Northampton Area High School); Zach Rickert (BAVTS/Northampton Area High School); and Charles Breidenbach (BAVTS/Northampton Area High School)
  • Heavy Equipment (3rd Place): Cody Marks (LCTI/Emmaus High School)
  • Heavy Equipment (4th Place): Logan Guttman (LCTI/Southern Lehigh High School)
  • Information Technology Services (4th Place): Sebastian Babon (MCTI/East Stroudsburg North)
  • Mechatronics (5th Place): Jacob Solt (LCTI/Northwestern Lehigh High School) and William Sterner (LCTI/Salisbury High School)
  • Electronics Technology (5th Place): Jacob Martinez (MCTI/East Stroudsburg North)
  • Automotive Refinishing Technology (5th Place): Julia Kemmerer (MCTI/Home-schooled)
  • Related Technical Math (6th Place): Mya Fritchman (LCTI/Southern Lehigh High School)
  • Plumbing (12th Place): Daniel Millhouse (BAVTS/Liberty High School)
  • Criminal Justice (13th Place): Gabriella Manuli (MCTI/Pocono Mountain

Students from SkillsUSA District 11 also participated in a Signing Day event in May, where nearly 150 students donned red suits and ties, and signed papers to signify the next steps in their careers or life paths.

The event, modeled after similar events typically held for student athletes, highlighted the importance of promoting and coordinating a skilled and prepared workforce, one of the priorities in the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation’s three-year strategic plan.

“As a result of their studies, these young adults are prepared to take on jobs and continue their education, and have been given a solid foundation on which to build,” Hammer said at signing day. LVEDC prepared a video about the event, which can be seen below:


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