Fred Eberle students display skills

The Inter-Mountain photos by Amanda Hayes Buckhannon-Upshur High School senior T.J. Streets works on framing of a house as part of the local SkillsUSA competition held this week at Fred W. Eberle Technical Center.

BUCKHANNON — They have spent all year in the classroom and this week it was time for students to take what they have learned and apply it in the local SkillsUSA contest at Fred W. Eberle Technical Center.

Rebecca Bowers-Call, director of the center, said, “Each program area has at least one or sometimes two contests in each of their areas that adults and students compete in. It’s an opportunity for students to show their expertise in their respective areas. The winner of each contest will go to the state SkillsUSA contest March 22-23. They compete for the chance there to go on to nationals which happens in June in Louisville, Kentucky.”

The center brought in outside judges to help with the day’s competitions.

“We have judges from the surrounding areas from industry in every program who have given their time to come in and support us,” Bowers-Call said. “They have taken off work and their companies have allowed them to spend the day here which is really, really nice.”

Lee Fletcher, carpentry instructor, said his students were essentially framing a small home for the contest that included framing a door and placing the trusses.

Lewis County High School student Dylan Wright competes in the SkillsUSA competition in the carpentry program this week at Fred W. Eberle Technical Center.

“It’s a real world situation,” he said. “They are going to see this if they want to go on and be a carpenter. This is what they are going to do.”

Unlike some of the other contests, the carpentry one lasted nearly all day — from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with a half-hour for lunch.

And while the judges were there to critique at the end, they also helped with the physical aspects of the job that required an extra set of hands.

“Some of these pieces are big and awkward, and so they are stepping in and helping with that part of it,”

Fletcher said. “Out on the job, they going to have help.”

The carpentry program prepares its students for real-world scenarios every day as part of its simulated workplace and through the projects Fletcher chooses.

“This program gets to build a house every year,” he said. “For the last several years, the carpentry program has built a modular home that is auctioned off. Last year’s home went to a flood victim.

The current home’s completion date may extend into the next school year because they started late.

There are other projects also in the mix.

“All the tech centers around the state are helping the state parks out and we built Adirondack chairs for Tygart Lake State Park,” Fletcher said. “We are building kitchen cabinets for Lewis County High School and Lewis County Middle School.”

The students turned raw lumber into finished cabinets and will then go to the schools and remove the older cabinets and install the new cabinets.

In diesel technology, students had already wrapped up their contest.

Instructor Charles Smith said the students completed eight different stations.

“We set it up just like they would do it out in the field,” he said. “They had to adjust valves on a Cummings engine, they had to use Cummins Insite to run diagnostics on an engine, had to trouble shoot some electrical, do some precision measuring and do some component IDs.”

Contests like SkillsUSA are good for the students to take part in, according to Smith.

“It builds up their confidence, helps them interact with other people and gets them prepared to be watched when they do go into a place of business. It does look good on a resume.”

Alex Suder, a senior at Philip Barbour High School, competed in the diesel technology contest and said he felt the modules were all common sense.

When asked if it was stressful, Suder said, “A little bit, but not much.”

The students had 20 minutes to complete each station and said what he had learned in class had prepared him for the contest.

Hunter Payne, also a senior at PBHS and competitor in the diesel technology contest, said, “I think I did pretty good.”

Payne plans to enter the diesel technology field after graduation.

“It looks good on a resume if you ever need it,” he said of the contest.