16 Cuesta College students head to state SkillsUSA competition

acornejo@thetribunenews.comMarch 19, 2014 

Cuesta College student Simon Rowe, who took home a gold medal in welding at the national SkillsUSA competition last year, is returning to the state championship to compete in technical drafting.


Cuesta College students will put their vocational skills to the test against their state peers in the California SkillsUSA competition in April.

Sixteen of the college’s Career and Technical Education students qualified for the contest by scoring high in the regional competition held in Salinas in February.

The students will show off their skills in a wide range of topics including commercial baking, electrical construction wiring, technical drafting, welding and digital cinema production.

Student Matt Matson, 26, will compete in the automotive service technology category.

Matson, who would like to own his own automotive shop one day, said competing in the regional competition “helped reinforce that I am actually learning stuff in class that I can apply in real life.”

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization that partners with students, teachers and industry representatives to prepare students for careers in trade, technical and skilled occupations.

This year marks the most students Cuesta College has sent to the state competition since it began participating in the program in 2006.

“SkillsUSA not only teaches the technical skills that are required for employment, but also teaches the character or soft skills that are required in the workplace in order to keep a job,” said John Stokes, Cuesta’s engineering and technology division chair, in a news release.

Stokes said that participating in the competition adds to students’ education.

“These skills lead to middle- and upper-class jobs,” Stokes said. “Every contest prepares students for something will be able to make a living at but enjoy doing it.”

The college has seen past success with the program.

Michael Mullen, a 20-year-old Cuesta College student, has demonstrated his mechanical skills in the SkillsUSA's automotive technology program. His success will take him to South America to compete in the automotive technology contest in the WorldSkills international event for those younger than 23 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in August 2015.

He'll be the only U.S. competitor in automotive technology and the second San Luis Obispo resident ever to make it to the event.

The state competition will be held April 24 to 27 in San Diego at the Town and Country Convention Center.

All students who earn a gold medal at the state level will be invited to compete in the national championships held in Kansas City, Mo., in June.

The students

Here are the 16 students who qualified for the California SkillsUSA competition:

  • Collision Refinishing: Austin Feavel
  • Automotive Service Technology: Matt Matson
  • Commercial Baking: Grace Stokes, Marina Perry
  • Computer Maintenance Tech: David Dynes
  • Culinary Arts: Noah Yoshida
  • Electrical Construction Wiring: Armando Minctar
  • Restaurant Service: Victoria Wilson
  • Prepared Speech: Grace Stokes
  • Technical Drafting: Simon Rowe
  • Digital Cinema Production: Team of Loren Acosta and Michael Silva
  • Welding: Bradley Stanton, Joey Grant
  • Welding Fabrication: Team of Ryan May, Tyler Grossi and Patrick Hickey

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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