Engineering Students hope to bring Home prize in National Competition

Published: April 20, 2015 | Author: Olyvia Meyer | Read Time: 2 minutes

Four Thunderbirds are flying to Louisville, Ky. in June to show off their technical knowledge and ability at the SkillsUSA National Competition, where they will compete for title as the brightest engineering students in the nation. University students from every state in the country will flock to the event in hopes of bringing home national recognition.

Beyond bragging rites, national winners will be awarded prizes, some totaling over $15,000, according to Professor Dave Ward, advisor to the Southern Utah University SkillsUSA chapter. In order to qualify to compete on this prestigious level, students must have won gold medals at their state SkillsUSA competitions, beating out engineering students from every other university in the state.

Representing the state of Utah from Southern Utah University will be Nathan Coats, a computer science major, who placed first in the Computer Programming category. Coats is working diligently alongside his professors and advisors to prepare for the heightened competition.

“I work as a Web Developer and spend a significant amount of time honing my programming skills,” says Coats, “However, the national computer programming competition will be in a different programming language which I’m now working on learning.”

Bruce Smalley, an engineering, electronics technology major, took first in the state in the Electronics Technology category. To win the state title, Smalley completed a written, theory-based test as well as test of his practical skills, given a schematic and parts to assemble a current amplifier on demand, in front of the judges. He says he is going into the national competition feeling confident, ready to "once more demonstrate the skills [he has] obtained while at SUU."

Two international students from China, Bowen Wang and Wenhao Yi, both engineering, electronics technology majors, brought home state gold in the team Mechatronics category. The duo was required to adjust and test an automated machine system, and troubleshoot and repair a faulty machine system as judges observed.

“It’s basically what we will really be doing in our industry in the future,” Wang explains.

The pair will join SUU integrated engineering classmates Coats and Smalley at the national competition.

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