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Pictured Left to Right (Back Row) James Paul, Spencer Paige, Erik Schellstede (Front Row) Cullen Muapin, Troy Ketchum, Donald Smith, Noah Kahlenberg (Not Pictured) Rene Escobar, Jesus Aguilar, Brandon Canovas

Texas State Technical College’s Fort Bend County campus is sending its first SkillsUSA team to state competition at TSTC’s Waco campus next month.

At least nine students will compete in the categories of Diesel Equipment Technology, HVAC, Welding Technology and job skills demonstration.

SkillsUSA is a professional organization teaching technical, academic and employability skills that help high school and college students pursue successful careers. Members build these skills through student-led team meetings, contests, leadership conferences and other activities.

Students in Skills USA participate in hands-on competitions in various fields such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, building construction and culinary arts.

SkillsUSA TSTC campus advisor and Diesel Equipment Technology instructor Spencer Paige said he is happy he was able to implement this program - the first for the campus.

“Before TSTC I worked for the school district and was the advisor for high school skills,” he said. “I saw so much of the benefits students received from this program, that I wanted our TSTC students to have the same opportunities.”

Paige added that students who compete in SkillsUSA get to practice and improve on the skills they have learned in the classroom, build on their soft skills such as public speaking and interviewing and network with industry professionals who judge the competitions.

“The selling point for our students is getting to meet and speak with industry professionals, many of which are also recruiters,” said Paige. “In SkillsUSA our students get to showcase their skills and some leave with interviews or job offers. This is a big deal for our students and our college.”

TSTC Diesel Equipment Technology student Troy Ketchum expects to earn his certificate in August, but first will compete at the SkillsUSA state competition. This is his first time ever competing.

“I’m excited and nervous all at the same time,” he said. “I can’t wait to visit another TSTC campus, see where we (students) stand among other college students in our field and meet with professionals in our field.”

The 30-year-old said he jumped at the opportunity to participate.

He will be the only one from the campus competing in job skills demonstration and will present on the topic of, “The Importance of Tire Pressure and Tread Depth.”  

“I’ve been working hard on preparing for SkillsUSA, we all have,” said Ketchum. “This is our first year and we all want to make a mark.”

The Rosenberg native has been staying after regular school hours preparing his presentation and practicing in front of other students, faculty and staff.

Paige said it has been all hands on deck, helping the students practice, prepare presentations and working with Talent Management and Career Services on updating resumes and interview skill building.

“Our job is to help these students do their very best and make the best impression possible,” said Paige. “We all have a common goal and that is to get to nationals and produce skilled students who are competitive in the job market.”

The nationals SkillsUSA competition will be held in Oklahoma this coming summer. Historically, TSTC is a top competitor at nationals with students bringing home the most medals.

For more information on programs offered at TSTC, visit

Registration for Summer and Fall 2018 begins April 2.  

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