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Scheeringa places at SkillsUSA nationals contest

Dan Scheeringa (right) a May WITC graduate from Star Prairie, recently competed at SkillsUSA nationals in Louisville, Ky. He placed eighth among his national competitors. Dave Brown (left) is an instructor in the WITC Power Sports program. Scheeringa received a technical diploma for completing the nine-month power sports program at WITC. Photo courtesy of WITC

The closing ceremony of the 53rd annual SkillsUSA National Conference in Louisville, Ky., was an exciting night for Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-New Richmond graduate Dan Scheeringa of Star Prairie. He placed eighth in the nation in the skills category Power Equipment Technology.

More than 16,000 students, teachers, education leaders and representatives from more than 600 national corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions participated in 100 hands-on skill and leadership competitions.

After he placed first in the Wisconsin SkillsUSA Conference in Madison in May, Scheeringa qualified to compete at the national conference. SkillsUSA advisor Dave Brown, WITC power sports instructor, accompanied Scheeringa to the conference. Scheeringa graduated with honors from the WITC power sports program in May.

The SkillsUSA competition involved tests in all areas of this technology. They must know and understand both two- and four-cycle engines and understand the related theories that go along with the types of engines that they will come across in the industry. Students need to understand drive trains, hydraulic and wiring schematics, and be well versed in customer service. In addition, as the students rotate through the various stations, they are judged and scored on physical and oral skills, as well as their ability to read and follow prescribed job tasks.

A conference highlight was actor Mike Rowe, of "Dirty Jobs" fame, who spoke at the event about his involvement with the 2017 SkillsUSA Championships in Louisville.

"It's a very big deal. Once a year we try to come and shed light on this. It's huge! If we focus on this organization it's our best hope of closing the skills gap," Rowe said.

A strong proponent of SkillsUSA, Rowe added, "The skills gap is not only real, it's a reflection of what we value. To close the gap, we need to change the way the country feels about work."