Nick Otte Wins Gold Medal at 2022 SkillsUSA Championships in Atlanta

Nick Otte (center) at SkillsUSA Championships Awards Ceremony

ECMT alumnus takes first place in Industrial Motor Control at the national level

Nick Otte, an alumnus of the Electrical Construction & Maintenance Technology (ECMT) program at Dakota County Technical College, took home a gold medal in the Industrial Motor Control (IMC) contest at the SkillsUSA Championships during the 2022 National Leadership & Skills Conference (NLSC). The conference took place June 20–24, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia.

“It was was truly surprising and one of the best memories of my life,” said Nick, who ranks as the college’s second ECMT competitor to win a gold medal in the IMC contest at the national level in the last 10 years. Seth Hagen took first place in the contest in 2012. Nick, who graduated from DCTC with his A.A.S. degree this past May, advanced to the SkillsUSA Championships by taking first place in the IMC contest at the SkillsUSA Minnesota State Championships held on the DCTC campus in April 2022.¹

Nick competing at SkillsUSA Championships

“Nick’s success demonstrates the dedication of all our ECMT faculty to consistently and effectively teach our future generations of electricians not just to pass their classes and graduate from DCTC, but to be among the best electricians in the United States,” said Anna Voight, associate director of student life at DCTC. “This is a huge accomplishment for Nick, and a testament to the high quality technical education the college provides our students to meet industry needs.”

Anna added that providing opportunities to compete at SkillsUSA events would not be possible without the college’s dedicated SkillsUSA advisors.

“Thanks to Kathy Paukert, lead SkillsUSA advisor and director of the DCTC Medical Assistant program, for coordinating the logistics for the competitions each year,” Anna said, “and Ron Gruenes, ECMT faculty, for supervising the trip to Atlanta and helping Nick prepare for his competition.”

“Congratulations, Nick!” Kathy said. “You did an amazing job competing, and you are a great representative for DCTC.”

According to SkillsUSA, “More than 6,500 outstanding career and technical education students—all state contest winners—competed hands-on in 108 different trade, technical, and leadership fields. Students worked against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations such as electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting and culinary arts. Contests were run with the help of industry, trade associations, and labor organizations, and test competencies are set by industry. Leadership contestants demonstrated skills, including extemporaneous speaking and conducting meetings by parliamentary procedure.”

Ron Gruenes: ECMT faculty perspective

Ron Gruenes

“I really enjoyed the 2022 SkillsUSA Championships with Nick. He is a very smart man with a bright future ahead of him. Nick proved what we have seen in him over the last two years. He has an incredible talent for problem solving.

“Nick has always been interested in how circuits work—and it really shows. He has great mechanical skills and can think through problems along with being a great person. I couldn’t ask for anything else in a student. I am very proud of Nick. I wish him a great career.”

Ron Gruenes
Electrical Construction & Maintenance Technology Faculty
Dakota County Technical College

Industrial Motor Control Contest Description

Students demonstrate their knowledge of electrical principles, equipment and industry codes and standards as it relates to the design and installation of motor control systems. Students demonstrate their skills and abilities in applying that knowledge by properly installing motor control equipment and associated enclosures, raceways, pilot devices and circuitry in accordance with accepted industry practice and National Electric Code requirements.

Nick Otte: SkillsUSA Championships Gold Medalist

Nick Otte

Electrical Construction & Maintenance Technology Alumnus
First Place Nationally Industrial Motor Control (IMC)
Dakota County Technical College

Age: 22
Hometown: River Falls, Wisconsin
Current residence: Roberts, Wisconsin
High school: River Falls High School, Class of 2019
DCTC graduation: May 2022
Career plans: Work as a commercial electrician

One word that best describes your experience at DCTC:


Q & A

How did your EMCT coursework help prepare for your SkillsUSA competition?
Just like for the competition, I learned to take my time and put 100 percent effort into it.

What did you enjoy most about the ECMT program?
The hands-on labs. There’s nothing more fun than taking what you learn in class and applying it to the labs.

What advice would you give to students thinking about competing in SkillsUSA?
Just do it. Be confident in your skills and know that it will one of the most fun times in your lives.

More about SkillsUSA at DCTC

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization for students in trade, industrial, technical, and health occupation programs at community and technical colleges. The SkillsUSA mission is to empower its members to become world-class workers, leaders, and responsible American citizens.

More than 50 SkillsUSA competitions relate to DCTC programs of study or leadership development. DCTC students compete against other colleges in Minnesota. Competitors who place first in the state advance to the SkillsUSA Championships at the NLSC, where they compete against the best students in the nation in their chosen field. Participation in SkillsUSA gives you valuable experience, enhances your skill set, and provides an excellent addition to your resume. View the SkillsUSA Competition Listing for details.


More about Electrical Construction & Maintenance Technology (ECMT) at DCTC

Designed to give you hands-on experience for entry-level positions in electrical construction, installation, operation, and maintenance occupations, the ECMT program delivers technical courses in electrical/electronics theory plus the installation, maintenance, wiring, and testing of electrical/electronic apparatus and control devices through the application of the National Electric Code.

Employment in this field typically requires successful completion of the Minnesota Electrical licensing exam. The ECMT program is approved by the Minnesota State Board of Electricity. Able to work indoors and out, electricians must be safety conscious and able to distinguish colors. They find work with electrical contractors, technology system contractors, registered employers who only perform electrical work in facilities they own or lease, and manufacturers of electrical equipment.



Install and repair electrical wiring in homes and businesses.


Above the statewide median of $23.00/hour


Median: $33.36/hour
High: $41.31/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $36.59/hour
High: $45.35/hour


In Minnesota, there are 9,840 workers employed in this medium-sized career, which is currently in very high demand and is seeing high growth compared to other careers. Growth rate in the U.S. is 10.4.

There will be a need for about 11,760 new Electricians to meet market demand between 2020–2030. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

Minnesota State CAREERwise Education

Learn more about SkillsUSA at DCTC by contacting:

Kathleen Paukert
Medical Assistant Program Director
SkillsUSA Faculty Advisor

Learn more about Electrical Construction & Maintenance Technology at DCTC by contacting:

Ron Gruenes
Electrical Construction & Maintenance Technology Faculty

Natalie Shrestha
Academic and Financial Aid Advisor

¹ Nick’s IMC contest was held at the J.H. Larson Company