Career tech students work on collision repair at the Voss Collision Center in February during the regional SkillsUSA competition. Contributed photo by Mike Moore

SkillsUSA 2020 showcases budding auto techs of tomorrow

Fifteen high school students arrived at the Voss Collision Center bright and early on a February Saturday to show off their skills in collision repair and automotive refinishing.

It was the southwestern Ohio SkillsUSA regional competition, with thousands of dollars of scholarships on the line. The top three finishers in both categories will advance to the state competition in Columbus on April 7.

The students are from career technical and joint vocational schools from Columbus to Cincinnati. Upper Valley CTC and Butler Tech CTC were the local schools that sent representatives from the seven schools that competed. The SkillsUSA competition is held in 29 disciplines taught at the career tech schools.

For the collision repair technology phase, each entrant must repair a dent in metal, repair a dent using plastic filler and perform four types of welds. In automotive refinishing technology they must repair a scratch in a fender, refinish it blending the color, mask a car for painting, and perform the identification of paint codes using the VIN number.

The students have four hours to complete the tasks and they also take a written test. Professionals employed by Voss Collision Center handle the judging; this year they were joined by three technicians from Voss Cadillac.

This is the 14th year that Voss has hosted the competition, making their state-of-the-art facility on Loop Road in Centerville available.

“We are trying to help train the repair technicians of the future,” explained Michael Moore, the collision center manager. “We have hired these students in the past and we hope to in the future. We want to give something back to the community and help prepare these students for a bright future.”

Moore added that the event wouldn’t be possible without the sponsorship of Hertz, AirGas – which supplies all of the welding materials – and Finish Master paints, which provide all of the paint supplies.

All the Voss judges volunteer their time, and retired SkillsUSA manager Virgil Neal still oversees the operation each year.

“It’s an annual event that we all look forward to, it’s educational but it’s also fun,” he said.

In the collision repair technology category, Collin Duncan of Diamond Oaks Career Center placed first; Juan Silas of Scarlet Oaks Career Center was second; and third place was awarded to Patrick Worthington of Live Oaks Career Center.

First place in automotive refinishing went to Nicholas Raymond of Live Oaks Career Center; second place was awarded to Briana Brown of the Upper Valley CTC; and third place went to Mathew Neal of Scarlet Oaks Career Center.

The Pat Kowalski Memorial Award was presented to Dominic Findley of Tolles CTC. The award, named for the Voss Collision Center manager who brought the competition to Voss and worked tirelessly to help educate young techs, is presented to the student who exhibits integrity, dependability, initiative, positive attitude and service to others – much as Kowalski did during his life and career.

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