JCJC’s SkillsUSA students place in Top 10 at national competition

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2018-07-12 19:03:53

ELLISVILLE- All four, Jones County Junior College students placed in the Top 10 at the National SkillsUSA contest in Louisville, Kentucky. Ben Smith of Quitman finished fourth in the Sheet Metal category while Mayson Norton of Mobile, Alabama, finished sixth in the Related Technical Math competition. The team of Justin Aultman of Saginaw, Michigan and current resident of Seminary, and McKenna Pippen of Seminary placed seventh nationally with their original product, “Trash It.” They bravely entered their creation in the new competition category, Engineering Design. Additionally, Pippen was one of 15 recipients of a Southeastern Construction Owners and Associates Roundtable (SCOAR) Scholarship as part of the nationals SkillsUSA program. The $1,000 scholarships are for students who wish to pursue more education or credentialing in a construction-related field.

“This scholarship is definitely a confidence booster! I work hard towards my goals and it feels great to be rewarded for that!” said Pippen, who plans to get a degree in architecture.

JCJC SkillsUSA advisor, Ryan Hearn said this was the first time in his six-years as advisor that all of JCJC’s students placed in the Top 10 at the National SkillsUSA competition.

“I couldn’t be more proud of their accomplishments!” said Hearn. “The national competition also proved to be a valuable experience for our JCJC students. Everyone had the opportunity to participate in several days of interactive experiences, from orientations, vendor Techspos, competitions, debriefing sessions, and a ‘meet and greet’ with potential employers.”

Every student placing in the top three spots also took home prizes like tools, kits and supplementary materials. JCJC’s engineering and design team received a Fischertechnik robotics kit for participating. Ben Smith received several trade tools used for sheet metal, such as, pliers, vise grips and tin snips. Students also heard Mike Rowe, the TV personality and creator of the TV show, “Dirty Jobs,” speak at the award ceremony. Each of these students earned first place in the state SkillsUSA competition in April to be invited to compete on the national level. Hearn said SkillsUSA is an opportunity for hundreds of student competitors to get real-world experience and recognition for their talents.

“Overall, JCJC was well represented and trained well for the national competition. The students handled themselves professionally and were excited to see what the next level of competition would be like against students from across the nation. I’m so proud our students pushed through to the top,” said Hearn. 

In the state competition, the team of Aultman and Pippen presented their manual trash compactor creation to a panel of engineers from the Nissan Plant in Canton, Mississippi who judged at the state SkillsUSA competition. These young entrepreneurs hope to find an opportunity to market their hand-powered trash compactor.

“I think the judges liked the idea because there is nothing like it now on the market and it solves a problem that many can relate to,” said Aultman.

Hearn said the duo had to develop an out-of-the-box solution to an everyday problem. They were responsible for the initial concept, design, modifications and preparation for state competition. To place first in the state competition in a new category is very impressive and to land in the Top-ten nationally, is a testament to their creativity and skills.

“After JCJC I plan to go to Michigan State University,” said Pippen. “My main goal is to one day own my own architectural firm or be a successful freelancer!”

Also impressing judges nationally, Smith admitted he only had four months of training prior to the state competition in April. He managed to build a three-foot transition elbow with a 90-degree angle for ductwork to precise measurements within seven hours. JCJC HVAC instructor, Thomas Johnson said Smith’s skills are in high demand for those who can accept the challenge.

“You have to practice measuring and pounding the sheet metal to the exact dimensions. It’s all done by hand but I really enjoy the challenge. After graduation, it’s nice to know I have a job waiting for me,” said Smith.

In all, twenty-four Jones students went to Jackson to compete in the SkillsUSA state competition with eighteen students coming home with top honors.


More News