Navajo Technical University showcased its talents at the 50th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference by medaling seven students competing in their respective trade and skill occupations at the Kansas City Convention Center from June 25-26, 2014.
NTU competed in 19 different categories at SkillsUSA’s annual national conference and received a bronze medal, two silvers, and a gold when industrial engineering major Adriane Tenequer was announced national champion in the category of Sustainable Solutions. The gold medal was the first for NTU since 2011 when the tandem of Zandra Trujillo and Alvina Tom also won in the category of Sustainable Solutions for their work on solar ovens.
“I was proud to know that the time had come for me to be recognized on the stage of champions representing New Mexico and the Navajo Nation,” explained Tenequer, who resides in Crownpoint, New Mexico and serves as the SkillsUSA state postsecondary president for the state of New Mexico. “The SkillsUSA National Conference is an amazing experience in that it opens many doors with endless opportunities. I’ve experienced these opportunities first hand.”
To earn her medal, Tenequer had to endure three phases of competition that consisted of a written test, a hands-on demonstration, and an oral presentation. The written test covered calculations regarding photovoltaic systems including system and battery sizing, cost of electricity, and creating block diagrams, while the demonstration had Tenequer providing a home energy audit using an IR Heat Gun. Additionally, Tenequer had to trouble shoot a PV system, install a stand-alone wind turbine with a battery bank, and wire the battery bank to a desired system voltage. From her results, Tenequer then had to present her findings to a homeowner informing them of how to make their home more energy efficient.
Also medaling for NTU at the SkillsUSA National Conference included silver medalists Dwight Carlston, Sherwin Becenti, and Collins Woody in the Category of Career Pathways – Natural Resources-Agriculture-Food; silver medalist Dexter Dale in the category of Restaurant Service; and bronze medalists Kim Mahung and Candice Craig in the category of Mobile Robotics Technology.
On their way to bronze, Mahung and Craig were tasked with the objective of constructing a mobile robot from scratch that could operate under automated and manual controls to navigate tunnels and mines to collect rubies. In addition to creating the robot, the industrial engineering and IT-digital manufacturing dual majors also had to take a math and physics written exam, and present their results on the robot through PowerPoint.
“It was rigorous,” said Mahung, who serves as the SkillsUSA state postsecondary vice-president for the state of New Mexico. “We didn’t really know how we did, but we felt like we could have done much better. We had fun competing, and we want to go back now since we know the routine.”
Culinary arts major Dexter Dale agreed on the rigor of the competition. “At certain points I felt very fatigued to where I got these negative thoughts of ‘I’m not going to finish setting my table up in time’ and ‘I’m going to fail,’” expressed Dale, who hails from Twin Lakes, New Mexico. “Then I thought of everything I put on my shoulders before the competition and that gave me the extra boost I needed. Everything that I had on my shoulders included my family, my friends, and the Navajo Nation.”
“…I wanted to show them that it’s possible to make it off the reservation and achieve anything they can dream of no matter where they come from or what they have been through. Greatness is out there for the taking,” Dale continued.
Dale had to set a table for three guests in his competition as well as present, pour, and serve wine in the correct manner; cook an omelet with three ingredients; host a meal; and take two written exams. The first exam was based on leadership knowledge and the second was in regards to front of the house service knowledge.
Environmental science and natural resources majors Carlston, Becenti, and Woody had to give an eight-minute poster board presentation on a subject related to their career path for their competition, which they collectively chose to do on contamination of drinking water on the Navajo Nation. Each member had to speak on the subject, and each provided insight into the landscape of the Navajo Nation and its various mining practices that have contaminated water over the years.
NTU SkillsUSA advisor Robert Witte was pleased with the students’ success and noted that those who competed in Kansas City represented the top two percent in the nation in their respective trade and skill occupations.
“I’m really proud of them,” stated Witte, who also noted that NTU medaled in over 20 percent of its competitions. “They worked their tails off and we received a lot of compliments from advisors from other states. The Nation should be proud of what these kids did.”