Spokane Valley Tech Students Excel at the SkillsUSA National Championships
Spokane Valley Tech (SVT) SkillsUSA State Champions attended the SkillsUSA National Conference in Louisville, Kentucky the week of June 23, 2019. Incoming junior Alex Sindledecker achieved an astounding 2nd in Computer Programming. Graduating senior Jake Windhorst and his teammate incoming junior Cooper Wharton experienced a “Murphy’s Law event” and still came away with 5th place in Additive Manufacturing.
Competing against state champions from across the country, Alex’s contest required him to program/comment two challenge problems, complete a simulated job interview, and take a test covering different programming languages, programming project management, and programming strategy. The contestants were given a total of eight hours to complete both problems simulating real-world workplace challenges. Needless to say, a student who just completed his sophomore year placing second at a national competition is an amazing accomplishment. Going forward, Alex is focused on learning everything he can at SVT, finding a job that helps him grow his skills in computer programming, and bringing home a SkillsUSA Nationals gold medal.
Cooper and Jake competed in Additive Manufacturing, a contest where students use design skills and knowledge of 3D printing to solve a design challenge, take an industry certification test, and a complete real-world mini-challenge. The main challenge takes place over three days (and nights.) Students are given the challenge, design a solution using CAD (computer-aided design), get the initial 3D printed prototype back on the second day to test/redesign, get the final prototype back on the third day to assemble, test, present, demonstrate, and submit their engineering documentation. The main challenge involved a robot and a feeder. This is where Murphy (Murphy’s Law: if it can go wrong, it will) comes into play. After being 6 for 6 in the initial performance trials, the test system broke and their design no longer worked. Respectful, careful, technical communication from Jake and Cooper encouraged the contest organizers to make a sincere effort to fix the problem but they were unsuccessful. In the end, the team lost 8% of the overall score earning 5th overall and knowing they had done their best. Each earned the Additive Manufacturing Fundamentals Certification from SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers) based on written test results. Next year Jake is off to Montana State to pursue a Mechanical Engineering and continue to grow his skills in designing/marketing useful products and services. Cooper will be back at SVT where he plans to continue to be a top student and move onto winning robotics competitions and improve his abilities in electronics and programming.