Bladen Community College students win big at national SkillsUSA competition

Cathy Kinlaw - Bladen Community College

DUBLIN – Bladen Community College welding students attending the 53rd annual SkillsUSA National Championships in Louisville, Ky,. have returned home with exemplary accomplishments. Jonathan Lashley has won the bronze medal in Welding Art/Sculpture and Darrian Hicks has won bronze in Job Skills Demonstration.

SkillsUSA is the world’s largest showcase of skilled trades. More than 15,000 students, teachers, education leaders, and representatives from 600 national corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions participated in the recent 2016 event.

The competition is for public high school and college/postsecondary students enrolled in career and technical education programs. SkillsUSA has a nationwide membership of over 300,000 students.

Lashley and Hicks were among 6,000 competitors in 100 hands-on skill and leadership contests, representing 130 different occupational areas.

BCC welding student Darrian Hicks stated, “This was the best experience I have ever had! This was the first time I have ever traveled this far from home and done something like this.”

Hicks’ competition required students to perform a task while explaining how the task is accomplished. Hicks created a single V-Groove Thermoplastic weld. Consequently, he combined skill with instructional expertise.

Al Hester, BCC welding instructor, commented, “I would see Darrian rehearsing what he was going to say over and over again. It looked as if he was talking to himself! But his presentation at the national competition won him a medal!”

Hicks remarked, “At the awards ceremony, when they called my name, at first, I overlooked it with disbelief. I thought, ‘someone from BCC has won?’ But then I started smiling and no one could slap that smile from my face! I was wearing my medal and holding my hands up with all the winners and I had this sense of completion.”

Darrian continues, “I want to thank God, my family, Mr. Dent, Mr. Lucas (for letting me borrow his stuff), Mr. Al, Mr. Humphrey, and the cosmetology teachers, Ms. Audrey and Ms. Elsie. My welding friends also helped me a lot.”

Jonathan Lashley competed in Welding Art/Sculpture. His entry was a handmade 12” X 18” three-dimensional carbon and stainless steel bream.

“I made a stencil and cut the stencils with a torch,” he explains. “To give it the shape of a fish, I put it in a vice and beat it with a hammer. I made two sides and welded them together. I cut the fins, the tail, and the gills, separately, and then welded it all together.” Lashley created five bream sculptures before he felt confident he had a highly-competitive entry.

Competitors are permitted to use machines to create their artistic presentations; however, Lashley chose to create his bream completely by hand. “I thought that since I did everything without machines, I might win first place. The judges were excited because I did everything by hand.”

According to Al Hester, “Jonathan worked for hours and hours on his sculpture. He stayed after class and worked at home on his project. This event can be one of the hardest competitions because you never know what the judges are looking for from year-to-year.”

Lashley competed against students from 20 other states. “It was a fun trip,” he concludes. “I really enjoyed the experience. It was my first trip out of state and the experience was awesome.”

“With these two medals,” states Hester, “Bladen Community College has now won a total of five national medals since 1997.”

“These BCC welding students have worked many hours on their discipline and have reached a level accomplished by only a few in the nation,” remarked Edward Dent, Dean of Engineering and Business Programs.

For information about the welding program at Bladen Community College, contact Edward Dent at 910-879-5652.

Cathy Kinlaw is the public information and marketing director at Bladen Community College.

Cathy Kinlaw

Bladen Community College

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