The SkillsUSA national competitions are always earmarked by remarkable talent from future entrants of the collision repair community. The 2016 event was no exception as students competed in Louisville, Ky. Top honors at the high school level went to Benjamin Falconer (Greeley, Col.) for Automotive Refinishing Technology, and Alan Zimmerman (Tiffin, Ohio) for Collision Repair Technology. Post-secondary gold medalists included Automotive Refinishing Technology competitor Wyatt Knick (Ypsilanti, Mich.) and Daniel Dwyer (Cortland, Ill.) for Collision Repair Technology.
All four gold medalists are being awarded $1,250 tool scholarships from the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and the March Taylor Memorial Fund (MTMF). The scholarships will be made available in the form of a credit with Snap-on.
“The shortage of emerging technical staff entering our field is one of the greatest challenges facing our industry,” said SCRS Chairman Andy Dingman. “It’s important to us at SCRS to recognize those who are taking an interest in this line of work, and striving to be the best in their class. We want to do everything possible to make sure that hard-working young technicians find their way to a rewarding career in the industry.”
“What SkillsUSA has meant to me is a change in view on this career and a massive step in the industry,” remarked two-time gold medalist at the high school level in Automotive Refinish Technology, Benjamin Falconer. “I originally just got involved with it thinking it would be a cool class to take for some extra credit in high school, but it turned into so much more than that. It actually changed my life! Being involved has made me feel like something more than just that kid that really likes cars; I am now that kid that really KNOWS cars. I would like to give a huge thank you to the Society of Collision Repair Specialists. You guys have been a huge help over the last two years, and I appreciate all that you do for me and the SkillsUSA competitors as a whole.
Alan Zimmerman, who received the gold medal at the high school level for Collision Repair Technology, added, “As a competitor in the SkillsUSA competition, I view it as an experience to expand my education, have fun competing in something I enjoy, get my name out for future employers, meet new people, make memories, expand my knowledge in my field, and win tools and scholarships to help kick start my career as a collision repair technician. SkillsUSA has helped me learn responsibilities, and how to set goals and priorities. Thank you for supporting such a great organization for kids like me who would rather work on a car then play sports. It has been the best accomplishment in my life to win the national SkillsUSA collision repair competition.”
The competitors aren’t alone in seeing the developmental value in industry-oriented competition.
“As a parent, one of the most exciting things is to see your child become passionate about something positive that will lead to a successful future,” said Zimmerman’s father, Barrett Zimmerman. “This is why Michelle [Zimmerman’s mother] and I are so grateful for SkillsUSA and for the opportunities made available to our son Alan. Through SkillsUSA and the collision repair competition, Alan was able to combine his mechanical and artistic abilities and showcase the talents that he developed in preparation for the events. Michelle and I have stood by and supported Alan from his very first local competition, and his determination and hard work definitely paid off. We always wondered exactly what Alan would choose to do for a career, and because of his involvement in SkillsUSA, we now know that he has found his future career and he enjoys it more than anything else.”
Recognition for performance doesn’t just benefit the awarded student, according to Sentinel Career and Technology Center collision repair instructor Carl Rusch. He shared with SCRS that it also serves as a great motivator and incentive to his classes as well. “I would like to thank you and your organization for the generous tool money award provided for Alan Zimmerman,” expressed Rusch. “SkillsUSA is the biggest motivator that I have ever seen in my 18 years of teaching for students to showcase their talents. When these students see that working hard can pay off in such a way as getting tools and scholarships, it is such a jumpstart in their lives. I just want all of you guys to realize the impact that you make in these students’ lives and I sincerely appreciate it.”
MTMF Trustee Jeff Hendler added, “I’ve watched this industry grow and develop. The complexity of the vehicles we fix is unparalleled, and as an elder in the industry, it’s rewarding to see young men and women who strive for excellence and have a focus on developing their skillset. I know for certain that it would make March Taylor, the namesake of our memorial fund, very proud to see a younger generation of technicians in pursuit of excellence. We are proud to be a part of it, and hope it encourages more to participate.”