(WACO) – Texas State Technical College’s Building Construction Technology program hosted students from Belton and Mansfield this week for a SkillsUSA construction boot camp.
Four students from Belton High School and one student from the Mansfield Independent School District worked on carpentry and building skills to prepare for SkillsUSA’s 53rd annual National Leadership and Skills Conference taking place June 19-23 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Students from TSTC who will compete in the conference’s collegiate division also perfected their skills and bonded with the high school students.
Michael Carrillo, a TSTC Building Construction Technology program instructor, used past SkillsUSA exercises to simulate timed competitions the students will encounter.
“Sure, we compete under the same roof as the college team, but our kids can communicate with one another,” said Craig Sullivan, a construction technology teacher at Belton High School. “We want Texas represented well. We are rooting for TSTC just like they are rooting for us.”
Sullivan said this was his fourth building construction squad to have won the Texas SkillsUSA high school construction contest in the spring, enabling them to go to the nationwide competition.
Andres Zapata, 19, a 2017 graduate of Belton High School and future TSTC Building Construction Technology major, said framing was his strength on the building team.
“It’s an honor to work with these technical college students,” Zapata said. “It prepares us as well to see teams compete against us. This will make us better.”
Matt Peeler, 27, a TSTC Building Construction Technology major from Belton, did not have the opportunity to take construction technology when he attended Belton High School. But he said if he had the chance to go back to high school to do it, he would.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to work alongside the students,” Peeler said. “It’s a great experience and lets us know where we stand and where they stand.”
Carrillo said the program has hosted SkillsUSA high school students for three years to allow them to work with TSTC students.
“So far it’s going well because it’s pretty much them against a different team,” he said. “They can gauge efficiency, time and coordinating with team members.”
The Belton High School SkillsUSA construction contest group is made up of Chloe Bush, 18; Allan Harlow, 19; Joseph Hermann, 19; and Zapata.
Jacob Dawson, 17, a senior at Mansfield’s Legacy High School who also attended the Ben Barber Innovation Academy, will compete for Texas in the individual carpentry competition. He spent three days on the Waco campus working on blueprint reading, wood framing and other skills, along with meeting program faculty.
“Practicing has made it easier to get a feel for what I am doing,” said Dawson.
Besides Peeler, TSTC’s Teamworks group for SkillsUSA is made up of Building Construction Technology majors Jack Chance, 19, of Waxahachie and Edgar Cuellar, 26, and Jose Perez, 19, both of Waco.
TSTC Building Construction Technology major Larry Johnson of Mount Pleasant will compete in the individual carpentry contest at SkillsUSA. He and Dawson did their own simulation competition to practice for the Louisville contest.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.