(WACO, Texas) – Two students from Texas State Technical College’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology program at the Waco campus received medals at last week’s 59th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
Fabian Camargo, of Cumby, won a bronze medal in the Heavy Equipment Operation contest, and Chris Martinez, of Marlin, received a bronze medal in the Plumbing contest.
Both qualified in April to represent Texas at the conference by placing first in their contests at the 2023 SkillsUSA Texas Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference held in Houston.
“It puts the plumbing department on the map,” said Jose Davalos, an instructor in TSTC’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology program. “It’s letting us know we are doing the right things. It makes you want to strive for more.”
Camargo’s contest involved a written test, troubleshooting, and driving heavy equipment on an indoor obstacle course.
“I never expected to win something, but once I saw my name on the scoreboard, it was crazy getting on stage and seeing hundreds of people out in the crowd (at the closing ceremony),” he said.
Camargo said one of his favorite things about the conference was trading state pins, enabling him to meet other students from throughout the country.
Martinez returned to the national conference after having won a bronze medal in the Plumbing event in 2022.
“It was awesome,” he said about this year’s conference. “I had a great time. I really was wanting to do better, but the competition was tough this year. There were really great competitors, but I am happy and excited about taking bronze.”
Martinez said he was happy to see the industry’s future plumbers all around him during the competition.
“When you are competing against the best in the nation, you can measure yourself and see where you’re at,” he said.
Camargo and Martinez were among more than 20 students from TSTC’s Brownwood, East Williamson County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater and Waco campuses who competed at the national conference, which was held June 19-23 at the Georgia World Congress Center and State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta.
SkillsUSA is a nonprofit professional organization teaching employability, leadership and technical skills that can help middle school, high school and college students pursue successful careers and be part of a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA has more than 100 leadership, technical and trade competitions, ranging from 3D Visualization and Animation to Welding Sculpture.
For more information on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.