By Michael Boman
Corey Pavlak is not new to the SkillsUSA competitions. As a student in the Building Trades program at the Bay Arenac Career Center he competed and placed at the national level. Now as a welding teacher in his first year at Midland High School he is hoping to pass on his success to his students.
Knowing the importance of Career and Technical Student Organizations, such as SkillsUSA, have on student growth and performance he started a local chapter at Midland High School.
If you are like many people and do not know what SkillsUSA is all about it is designed to prepare Americas high performance workers by providing quality educational experiences for its participants in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. This is done by building and reinforcing self-confidence, work attitudes, and communication skills. SkillsUSA also emphasizes total quality at work, high ethical standards, life long education, and pride in work.
There are a lot of skills students must learn and preform to be part of the SkillsUSA welding competitions. Students have to learn how to make proper weldments in various positions, materials, and directions. Corey said that “Students have to accurately read a set of blueprints and know the machine settings required for the material and weld position to produce the perfect weld that the judges will be looking for.” As one can imagine, the students put in hours of practice in hopes to be able to compete for a limited number of spots.
In preparing for the regional competition Corey picked twenty of his most skilled students to compete for the nine slots he had available. The in house competition narrowed down the students into three categories. He had three students chosen for each of the three welding processes they were going to compete in: Gas Metal Arch Welding, Shielded Metal Arch Welding, and Gas Tungsten Arch Welding. Corey had only freshman to make it to the regional competition.
The regional competition was held at Delta College on February twenty fourth. By the end of the contest Corey, in just his first year teaching at Midland High School, had one student, Axel Speer, finish second in the Gas Tungsten Arch Welding category which earns him the chance to compete at the state level April 20th-22nd in Lansing. Axel's second place finish earned him a new welding jacket and gloves, just one of the many prizes given away to students by sponsors like Airgas. Due to the skills he shown in competition Axel was also offered some scholarships. One was a $3,000 scholarship to Lincoln Technical Institute and another was a $2,000 scholarship to Northwood University. However, he has already decided to attend University of Northwestern Ohio. This is partially due to scholarships he has already earned for projects he has entered into the Michigan Industrial and Technology Education Society competitions.
Corey has high hopes for Axel at this years state competition. However, he is already looking at next years events. He pointed out that his freshman student that went to regional competition this year has had exposure to the event that should give him a leg up over the competition over the next three years. With the success Midland High School has had in its first year, I expect to hear more good news from the welding program for years to come.