Friday, February 23 , 2018, 1:00 pm | Fair 58º


Six Hancock Students Earn Medals at State SkillsUSA Competition

Hancock’s SkillsUSA state competition team.

Six students made history by becoming the first Allan Hancock College students to receive medals at a SkillsUSA state competition. Two Hancock students won gold medals, a team of four won silver and three students earned bronze medals during the 49th annual SkillsUSA California State Conference in San Diego.

“I am very proud of our students,” said Hancock welding instructor Gabriel Marquez. “We have further demonstrated the college has a dedicated group of students and instructors willing to go the distance to show the level of instruction offered at Hancock and the high skills level of our students.”

SkillsUSA is a national organization for students in trade, industrial, technical and health occupations education.

The organization holds competitions annually both to recognize the achievements of career and technical education students and to encourage them to strive for excellence.

In order to qualify for state, students are required to earn a medal at a SkillsUSA regional competition. Earlier this year, 17 Hancock students won medals at regionals to qualify for state. 

Wyatt Allen brought home gold in the technical drafting category, which requires students to compose drawings that visually communicate how something functions or is to be constructed.

“I have loved art and design for years, almost as long as I’ve loved engineering. It’s a cool combination of all three of my passions,” Allen said.

With his first place finish, Allen advanced to the next level of competition. The 52nd annual SkillsUSA National Championships will be in Louisville, Ky., June 22-23.

More than 6,000 career and technical education students, all state contest winners, will compete. The championships occupies space equivalent to nearly 20 football fields.

“I am thrilled to represent Hancock and California at nationals,” said Allen. “My philosophy is to handle it the same way I did state. I’ll walk in, sit down, draw and do what I know best.”

Devin Miller, a Righetti High School graduate, earned a gold medal in metal inert gas (MIG) welding. He credited the facilities and instructors at Hancock for taking his abilities to the next level.

“I have learned quite a bit on the technical side of welding like the tricks of the trade and more intricate skills,” said Miller. “It is a great honor to be recognized as the state’s top MIG welder.”

The team of Cory Rodriguez, Frank Morin and Robert Galindo won a silver medal in automated manufacturing technology.

Jacob Halop, Christian Navarro and Dominic Sena received bronze medals in the respective categories of automotive service technology, tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding and shielded metal arc welding (SMAW).

“It feels great to know we can compete with the best of the best, not only in the region, but in the state,” said Halop, a bronze medalist in automotive service technology. “The SkillsUSA competitions really pulled us together as a team, and we were really proud to represent Hancock. My instructors have taught me so much, one even helped me land a great job.”

This was the first year Hancock entered SkillsUSA competitions with a full team. Donations from a handful of local manufacturing companies, such as Zodiac Aerospace, Helical Products Company, Melfred Borzall, Alan Johnson Performance Engineering and the Gene Haas Foundation, helped make it possible. 

“The experience of going to the SkillsUSA state competition was rewarding for everyone,” said automotive technology instructor Patrick McGuire. “Nothing inspires more confidence and reassurance in a student than an objective assessment of their skills and knowledge. Everyone who competed now knows exactly what they need to do to be better at their craft, including instructors.”

Students plan to continue honing their skills at Hancock in order to go for the gold next year.

“The competitions are incredible learning experiences,” said Samantha Baeza, who won a silver medal in shielded metal arc welding at regionals to qualify for state. “Now I know what I need to work on, and I plan to be ready to win a medal at state next year.”

Hancock instructors hope more career technical education programs get involved with SkillsUSA competitions.

The college has developed classes that will be offered in the fall to prepare students for employment and intercollegiate competition.

Students can register for SkillsUSA classes offered in auto body (AB 370), architecture (ARCH 370), automotive technology (AT 370), electronics (EL 370), machine technology (MT 370) and welding (WLDT 370). The three-unit courses begin the week of Aug. 22. 

Students can register for summer and fall classes beginning April 18. To see the schedules of classes for summer and fall, visit, then select Class Search.

For more information on the program, contact the Industrial Technology department at 805.922.6966 x3335.

Gina Herlihy is a public affairs and publications technician at Allan Hancock College.

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