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8 Wexford-Missaukee CTC CNET student in SkillsUSA comp | News

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Although it was not a typical type of scenario played out on a field, court or classroom, students from the area showcased their skills in a heated competition.

Last month, students from the Wexford-Missaukee Intermediate School District’s Career Technical Center participated in a virtual SkillsUSA competition. The results were released and it showed that several Computer Networking and Electronics Technology students and one Heavy Equipment student medaled in the state competition, including multiple gold medal winners.

While the event was different and virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all the students who medaled put in a lot of work and it paid off. While Riley Larr’s story about his bronze medal effort in the Diesel Equipment Technology competition was told recently, the eight CNET students’ accolades will take the center stage.

In Electronic Construction Wiring, Cadillac Innovation High School senior Cameron Watson earned the gold medal while innovation high senior Zachary Tipton took home the silver medal. The name of the competition pretty much sums up what it is, but Watson said the competition had all entrants complete work and answer questions regarding the wiring of a home or building during new construction.

Although he wasn’t going into the CNET program thinking he was going to excel in electronic wiring, he said it didn’t take long during his junior year for him to start enjoying the work.

“When we did wiring last year, I started falling in love with it,” he said. “My friend (Zach Tipton) asked me if I wanted to join him in doing it and we have been practicing since November. We (competed) in April and got our scores back and unexpectedly I got the gold medal.”

Besides the physical wiring both Cameron and Zach did, they also had to take a test that helped to illustrate what they had done in their classroom. They also had to be well-versed in the National Electrical Construction book and all the codes.

While Cameron did electrical wiring, Brady Johnston did a more information technology-related competition.

The junior homeschool student said unlike Cameron, his competition was more like a bunch of labs on his computer. These labs included problem-solving, troubleshooting and a 200-question test.

While some might feel some pressure in a competition like SkillsUSA, Brady said he thought it was more fun than nerve-racking. He said a lot of his friends were also part of the competition, so it made it an interesting new experience.

With his first-place finish in the state competition in the Information Technology Services category, he is preparing for the national event next month. Much like the state competition, Brady said he is not too nervous about it and is more excited. With this being his junior year, he also said he doesn’t feel pressure to repeat his performance at next year’s state competition.

For Cameron, a good showing at the national competition could just expand the opportunities that already have been presented to him after his win at the state SkillsUSA event.

“Right now, I could go up to the Traverse City Electrical Union and they said they will pay for my college,” he said. “I thought Zach (Tipton) was going to pull the gold and that I might get bronze, but I didn’t know it was going to be the other way around.”

Although Cameron said he had experience with computers before starting the CNET program last year, he said he never thought that interest would lead to him pursuing a career as an electrician. While he entered the program with his interests in computers and computer networking, he quickly learned about the electrical aspect of the program.

The more he did, the more he liked doing it. Soon, Cameron said the electrical work was what he enjoyed more than the computer aspect of the program.

While he is ready to make a career out of becoming an electrician, he said the opportunities he has will likely increase if he does well at the upcoming national competition.

“I know it will look good on my resume and I bet I would get even more opportunities,” he said.

CNET teacher Jeremy Houser said all the students who medaled put in a lot of work on both the electronic and IT sides. They stayed after school a couple of days a week since last fall. For that reason, Houser said his students earned their medals. While it is a great feather in the cap for the program, Houser said he happy for his students.

“We try to build good techs, so John (Partridge) and I really focus on building the best techs we can build,” he said. 

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