East Williamson County Precision Machining Technology

(HUTTO, Texas) – More than 20 students at Texas State Technical College’s East Williamson County campus are preparing to compete in the SkillsUSA Texas Postsecondary Leadership and Skills Conference scheduled for April 13-15 in Houston.

SkillsUSA is a professional organization focused on employability, leadership and technical skills that help college students pursue successful careers and be part of a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA has more than 100 categories of competition, ranging from 3D Visualization and Animation to Welding Sculpture.

Brian Bohannon, an instructor in TSTC’s Culinary Arts program, said three students from that program will compete in the Commercial Baking contest and four students will take part in the Culinary Arts contest.

Bohannon said he has been preparing students by teaching them how to make roses out of frosting for the cakes they will decorate. He is confident in the students’ abilities to make biscuits, cookies and pies.

From TSTC’s Precision Machining Technology program, one student will take part in the CNC Technician contest and four students will compete in the CNC Milling contest. One of the students will also participate in the Extemporaneous Speaking contest.

Precision Machining Technology student Melissa Barrow, of Hutto, will compete in the CNC (computer numerical control) Milling contest.

“My instructor was very encouraging and wanted us (students) to do it (SkillsUSA),” she said. “I am over 40, and I have never competed in any educational sense. I am excited to feel like a kid competing.”

Barrow said she is preparing for the contest by reading books on CNC programming and watching online videos, along with working on lessons in class.

This is the first year that the campus’ Welding Technology program has had students take part in SkillsUSA. The program will have one student compete in Welding Sculpture, three students compete in Welding, and two teams made up of three students each take part in the Welding Fabrication contest. The students are training during class time if they are caught up on their regular work, as well as during open lab time on Fridays.

Welding Technology students Phillip Neel, of Pflugerville, and Luis Ramos, of Taylor, are part of one of the Welding Fabrication teams. Neel said the team formed in January.

Neel said he wanted to take part in SkillsUSA for the first time because it was interesting and a new way for him to test what he has learned in the welding program.

Ramos said the students are using blueprints from previous years to understand the concepts they might encounter in the competition. He said the team is cutting and sizing their own materials before leaving for Houston.

Gold medalists will move on to the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference being held in late June in Atlanta, Georgia.

For more information on SkillsUSA, go to skillsusa.org.

For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu

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