Brains, muscles and power tools, students gather and show off their skills at WDT

RAPID CITY, SD (KEVN) — For the past two days, Western Dakota Tech hosted the 2022 SkillsUSA South Dakota Leadership and Skills Conference, drawing approximately 300 attendees, instructors and supporters from across the state.

Students showed off what their schools’ programs have to offer in areas such as construction, transportation, hospitality and more by demonstrating their skills both on the job and in writing as judges assessed their performance.

Those who demonstrated the best qualities in their profession, such as leadership and know-how, were recognized and rewarded. People like Cade Nofziger, who entered the auto repair and service competition, “won first place. Sort of nowhere. But no. It took a lot of practice. Definitely a group effort. We were all aware of this in advance and put in a few extra hours. Definitely some help from the instructors to prepare us and be ready to come here and do our best.

Last year’s event was held online, and attendees say it’s nice to be back to show off their potential in person.

Prior to participating in the event, students take an online test based on their subject area and this assessment contributes to their score, but “you don’t know how you’re doing,” says Nofziger, “they don’t tell you. Once this is complete, you are invited to join the event. During the event, they place you in a classroom until you are called into the store where you go through four different stations. Follow diagnostic procedures, repairs, and do your best with the knowledge you have to get the right answers. The judges score and give us a prize at the end if we win.

He calls the awards ceremony a big cliff hanger, where they go through each contest individually and pull out the winners.

He says when he heard his name, he felt it proved that for his team, hard work pays off.

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