Ichabods In Depth

Washburn Tech well represented at SkillsUSA 2013 national conference and competition

Julie DeShazer works at her station during SkillsUSA Commercial Baking competition June 27, 2013KANSAS CITY, MO. -- Calm and composed, Julie DeShazer worked strategically through her challenge. Making seven different baked goods in less than eight hours under the pressure of SkillsUSA 2013 national competition didn’t seem to weigh on her at all.

“It’s going pretty good,” she said during an interview at her 20-minute lunch break. She had just finished baking and decorating a birthday cake. She wanted it done before lunch, she said, to be sure it didn’t burn. She left dough for several different breads to rise while she ate lunch. “There is definitely strategy.”

Representing Washburn Tech, DeShazer, 18, recently graduated from Shawnee Heights High School and will be attending Washburn University in the fall. She intends to open her own bakery after earning her degree.

Deb Reynolds, a media committee member from Kansas City, said Washburn Tech had a lot to be proud of, pointing out that its delegation of 22 students was larger than any other Kansas institution’s. Each student competing at the national event qualified by earning gold in the same event at their state level. For Tech students, that meant besting students in similar programs from around the state at events held this spring.

Students from Washburn Tech competed in 16 different competitions. National winners will be announced Friday evening in a ceremony.

DeShazer said that state competition was good practice for nationals. She went to state in both 2012 and 2013. This was her first trip to the national event. The state competition this year, she said, “was a lot more stressful than this.”

Each of the contestants in the Commercial Baking competition received the same recipes ahead of time and was allowed to practice at home. All ingredients were provided. Even that can present challenges. DeShazer said contestants were provided with block yeast. She had previously only worked with active dry yeast.

In other contests, including Cabinet Making, where Brett Sidesinger of Topeka represented Washburn Tech, tools and materials were provided. Sidesinger had to read plans and produce the cabinet to exact specifications by the end of the time allowed.

SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference highlights the ability of students in technical education programs around the country who are earning credentials for skilled workforce jobs. Reynolds said 20 years ago the national conference convened a total of 6,000 people. This week there are 6,000 competitors in 98 different contests who represent all U.S. states and territories. Another 10,000 spectators, advisors, commercial vendors and trade experts also are on hand.

When not competing, students and their instructors and advisors were encouraged to participate in SkillsUSA University – training workshops that ranged from information to on-the-spot CPR certification.

Congratulations to all Washburn Tech students and faculty involved in SkillsUSA Nationals. Washburn Tech’s chapter and lead advisor David Praiswater also received state recognition with the Chapter Membership Increase Award and the Lowe’s Membership Increase Award.