Students Showcase Their Expertise at Annual SkillsUSA Championships in Bangor

A student operating heavy equipment in a simulator as part of the Heavy Equipment contest at SkillsUSA

(Pictured: A student operating heavy equipment in a simulator as part of the Heavy Equipment contest at SkillsUSA)

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is growing in Maine, and it was all the more evident at the SkillsUSA Maine State Championships held in Bangor recently. Students enrolled in the many career and technical education (CTE) programs found in schools across Maine gathered in Bangor for an exciting two-day event where they got the chance to showcase the skills they have mastered. (See Maine DOE’s 2023 CTE Infographic to learn about CTE expansion in Maine.)

SkillsUSA is a national career and technical student organization serving more than 395,000 high school, college, and middle school students, and professional members enrolled in training, trade, technical, health, and skilled service occupations. Maine’s Chapter hosts an annual Championship event each year where students get the opportunity to showcase their skills by competing in various contests that allow them to show off what they know.

Contests include everything from wedding cake decorating to firefighting, computer programing, auto tool identification, everything in between, and then some! There were over 70 different contests that students participated in over the two-day event that columnated with an awards ceremony at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center.

For many of the students, coming to SkillsUSA is an incredible accomplishment that they take a lot of pride in, and this year was extra special because they got the chance to share it with family and friends for the first time in a few years. The event, held at United Technologies Center (UTC), Eastern Maine Community College, and Cross Insurance Center, was held in person and the public was allowed to attend for the first time since before the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The exciting event bustled with groups of students, educators, instructors, and administrators, as well as TV news crews, family members, and supporters observing, snapping pictures, and taking videos of students while they competed.

Braden Luce competed in the Welding Sculpture contest along with twelve other students this year. Braden is enrolled in school at both Madomack Valley High School and Mid-Coast School of Technology where he participates in the welding program. He says he loves the program because of the hands-on aspect of it. Braden tells us that he looks forward to school every single day and is even disappointed when school gets closed on snow days.

Ahna Higgins competed in the Job Interview competition where she placed third earning a bronze medal. “I am very satisfied with my work in this competition because it helped me create connections in my technical center and become more confident in my interviewing skills,” she said. Ahna is a student at Somerset Career and Technical Center (SCTC) and Skowhegan Area High School. Last year she was enrolled in SCTC’s Certified Nursing Assistant Program and this year, her senior year, she has been part of the Early Education and Teaching program.

Higgins describes the work she does at SCTC as very fulfilling. “I get to spend my time in class doing things that really matter to me like working with children and learning about their development,” she said. “While preparing for SkillsUSA I also got the opportunity to prepare myself for an interview in the Education field,” she added. In the fall Higgins is planning to attend the University of Maine at Farmington to major in Elementary Education.

The Maine Department of Education congratulates all of the students who competed in SkillsUSA this year! We extend a special thank you, as well, to Maine’s Career and Technical Education schools for their continued dedication to providing quality career and technical education pathways to students across Maine.

Find the names of award recipients from the 2023 SkillsUSA Championships here.

Find more pictures from the conference, including the awards ceremony on the SkillsUSA Facebook Page.

See more media coverage of this event at the following links:

To learn more about SkillsUSA, check out Maine’s website here. To learn more about Career and Technical Education in Maine visit the Maine Department of Education’s website.