The nation’s leading high school and college-aged vocational students gathered in Louisville, Ky., last month to demonstrate their technical skills and knowledge at the SkillsUSA National Championships – and Chesapeake-based Volvo Penta was there to support them.
A highlight of the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, the Championships attract more than 6,000 outstanding career and technical education students who compete in hands-on contests in 100 different trade, technical and leadership fields. Contests are run with the help of industry, trade associations and labor organizations.
This is the eighth year that Volvo Penta, a global manufacturer of engines for leisure boats, commercial vessels and industrial applications, participated in the event. The company sponsored a marine service technology workstation and helped judge the competition.
“It’s important for companies like Volvo Penta that hire vocational talent to support programs such as the SkillsUSA National Championships,” said Ron Huibers, president of Volvo Penta of the Americas. “It’s one of the many ways that we are helping to mentor and encourage the next generation of technical talent.”
“More than 600 business and industry partners donated their time, talent, contest materials and financial support to make SkillsUSA a life-changing experience for our students,” said Kelly Persons, director of business partnerships and development at SkillsUSA. “Because of support from Volvo Penta and other valued corporate partners, SkillsUSA continues to serve as a vital solution to America’s skills gap. Each year, one-third of our members, some 100,000 students, graduate job ready, day one.”
The 28 finalists in the Marine Service Technology category had 20 minutes to show their hands-on proficiency at each of the five separate workstations. The Volvo Penta station challenged students to determine if engine sensors, which send information to the engine control unit, were in working order by using common diagnostic test equipment. The contestants were rated on their ability to read and understand the workstation instructions, perform the task and identify the defective sensors, in addition to taking an aptitude test.
Huibers noted that Volvo Penta also helps to nurture young talent through its year-round internship programs for both national and international college students who have an interest in technical and non-technical careers in manufacturing. Currently, 13 interns are serving in various company departments including engineering, aftermarket, sales, marketing and human resources.
“Working as a product support/technical service intern has provided me with real-world experience in the field of engineering. The position requires me to gather information from dealers and customers then use my technical skills to troubleshoot problems and offer solutions. It’s been rewarding to know that the work I put in every day helps to put families back out on the water faster,” said Aleric Sanders, Volvo Penta intern and Mechanical Engineering student at Old Dominion University.