DCTC Students Rock at SkillsUSA Nationals

DCTC SkillsUSA Team

 All 17 students rank in top 15 in the nation
DCTC SkillsUSA Team

Seventeen highly skilled students from Dakota County Technical College, 13 unique competitions, 12 dedicated coaches and essential bags of gummy bear trail mix. What do all these components have in common? The SkillsUSA National Championships held June 24–28, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. Five DCTC students brought home one gold medal, three silvers and one bronze with 12 more students placing in the top 15.

During the week, more than 5,900 career and technical education students—all winners of SkillsUSA state contests—participated in hands-on competitions representing 98 different trade, technical and leadership fields.

Leah King

On Monday, June 24, the group of 29 students and coaches hopped on a bus for the eight-hour drive. Leah King, a Medical Assistant student, said, “I was so blessed to go to SkillsUSA. I got to make friends with all of the people from DCTC on the bus ride down.” Fans posted words of encouragement on the SkillsUSA: DCTC Chapter Facebook page, including: “Have a great time and good luck!” “Super team!” and “Show them what you’ve got!”

DCTC students jumped right into orientations for their competitions. During the orientations, they got the opportunity to prepare for their upcoming contests. Judges outlined the contests for the participants, explained what to expect and laid out the timeline. Students were able to ask questions and they turned in their resumes for review.

By Wednesday, the competitions were in full swing. Early Childhood and Photography were up first. This year marked the most contestants SkillsUSA ever had in a single competition: 51 in photography. Alex Just, a DCTC Photography student, had his work cut out for him.

Mike Rowe speaking at opening ceremony

Mike Rowe speaking at opening ceremony

That evening, students and advisors took a break from the tension to participate in the opening ceremony. Mike Rowe, creator and executive producer of Discovery Channel’s Emmy-nominated series “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe,” delivered the keynote speech at the opening ceremony.

Competitions continued through Thursday. “The scale of the competitions was amazing to behold,” said King, who placed eighth in Medical Terminology. “I was in awe of all the talented competitors around me.” Working against the clock and each other, participants proved their expertise in job skills for occupations such as electronics, technical drafting, precision machining, medical assisting and culinary arts. There were also competitions in leadership skills, technical math skills and customer service.

Brian Warzeha, an Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technology student, was a national champion in Related Technical Math. Chad Brown, Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technology, Michael Doyle, Nanoscience Technology, and Mason Green, Nanoscience Technology, teamed up to take the silver medal in Engineering Technology Design. Eric Anderson, Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technology, brought home a bronze medal in Industrial Motor Control.

Brian Warzeha

Brian Warzeha

Michael Doyle, Mason Green, Chad Brown

Michael Doyle, Mason Green, Chad Brown

Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson

So…what do you eat if you have to stay up all night to edit your SkillsUSA digital video entry??? Why…. gummy bear trail mix…of course. As Russ put it, ” It’s not just a food, it’s an adventure. End result, we made deadline by 3 minutes but it was pretty interesting rendering the video while on the bus to the contest… Way to go Russ and Max!!” – SkillsUSA: DCTC Chapter Facebook

Finally, the hard work paid off. All DCTC students placed in the top 15. They attended the awards ceremony on Friday evening, some getting their moment on stage to receive their medals. “I am honored to be a part of SkillsUSA at DCTC and to work with a group of such phenomenal students and advisors,” said Anna Voight, assistant director of student life. “Thanks to all the faculty who encouraged their students to compete and advised them in their competitions.”

DCTC SkillsUSA National Winners 2013

  • Brian Warzeha | Related Technical Math | 1st
  • Chad Brown | Engineering Technology Design (team) | 2nd
  • Michael Doyle | Engineering Technology Design (team) | 2nd
  • Mason Green | Engineering Technology Design (team) | 2nd
  • Eric Anderson | Industrial Motor Control | 3rd
  • Wen Li | Computer Programming | 4th
  • Alex Just | Photography | 5th
  • Jake Leritz | Diesel Equipment Technology | 5th
  • Jessica Jackson | Early Childhood Education | 5th
  • Russ Gamache | Digital Cinema Production (team) | 6th
  • Max Slocum | Digital Production (team) | 6th
  • Leah King | Medical Terminology | 8th
  • Clay Carlson | 3D Visualization & Animation (team) | 9th
  • Miao (Magic) Li | 3D Visualization & Animation (team) | 9th
  • Brandice Carlson | Medical Math | 9th
  • Eric Musolf | Masonry | 11th
  • Kristofer Frelix | Customer Service | 13th


  • Kristin Vanevenhoven | Graphic Design Technology graduate
  • Jason Dean | Information System Specialist
  • Anna Voight | Assistant Director of Student Life
  • Roger Gartner | Heavy Construction Equipment Technology Instructor
  • Dan Ruzicka | Heavy Construction Equipment Technology Instructor
  • Darrell Tangen | Photography Instructor
  • Dawn Braa | Early Childhood and Youth Development Instructor
  • Mike Buck | Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technology Instructor
  • Larry Stone | General Education Mathematics Instructor
  • Ron Gruenes | Electrical Construction and Maintenance Technology Instructor
  • Paul Geisler | Concrete and Masonry Instructor
  • Kathy Tettam | Medical Assistant Instructor
  • Nicole Meulemans | Director of Student Life
View DCTC photos from SkillsUSA National Championships on flickr
About SkillsUSA

SkillsUSA is a national partnership of students, teachers and industry, working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA chapters help students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations excel. SkillsUSA has more than 300,000 students and instructors as members. SkillsUSA organizes this event, and it is considered the single greatest day of industry volunteerism in America every year at an estimated cost of more than $36 million. Each SkillsUSA Championships contestant is a state-level gold medalist.

Top student winners received gold, silver and bronze medallions. Many also received prizes such as tools of their trade and/or scholarships to further their careers and education. The SkillsUSA Championships is for high school and college-level students who are members of SkillsUSA.

The SkillsUSA Championships is unique because more than 1,700 technical experts from labor and industry design and judge the contests to a set of entry-level job skills that test both a student’s knowledge and hands-on abilities. Safety practices and procedures—an area of great concern to labor and management alike—are judged and graded and constitute a portion of a contestant’s score. Students who excel in competition know they have achieved the skills necessary to be successful when they enter the workforce. SkillsUSA affiliated instructional programs represent one hundred thirty different occupational areas.

The philosophy of the SkillsUSA Championships is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to keep training relevant to employer’s needs.

For more information about SkillsUSA at DCTC, contact:
  • Anna Voight
    Assistant Director of Student Life