Skills Craft Competition Teaches Students About Careers

- HAGERSTOWN, Md. - The Cumberland Valley Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, or ABC, and the Barr Construction Institute held the annual skills craft competition Saturday, as students put their skills to the test.

"The school year's about over in another week, and our fourth year students have to perform a skills test, which they'll be doing today in order to graduate and move on to get their certificates," said Will Seilhamer, president of ABC.

The annual skills craft competition takes place at the Barr Construction Institute in Hagerstown, Maryland.

"We're a four-year trade school. We have classes in carpentry, HVAC, plumbing and electrical," Seilhamer said.

Contestants in three of those trades, electrical, HVAC and plumbing, worked together and squared off against each other to demonstrate their knowledge of theory and practical aspects. Students say it's interesting to compete with their peers.

"Today you're actually doing a competition against them and seeing some of your skills versus their skills and see who can do what and stuff like that," said James Rhoderick, a student.

"Obviously we want to see them perform at the highest level to make sure they've learned, and are able to transfer the classroom and their shop experience over the last four years into the work world," Seilhamer said.

Not only did each of the trades compete against each other, but also they were judged on a variety of topics.

"Techniques, proper use of materials and tools and safety are the main concerns," said Allan Witmer, an electrical judge.

"The winners, first, second and third place will receive cash awards," Seilhamer said.

Everyone at the school knows the importance of graduating and earning their license to further their career.

"The ones that don't have the schooling is going have to do an additional three to four years of work in the field before they can apply for their license," Witmer said.

"You have to be licensed to work basically around the State of Maryland, West Virginia, any of them. You need your license. Anybody just can't go out there and do it," Rhoderick said.

The Barr Construction Institute accepts students of all ages to join their programs. Many of the students attend classes while having other part time jobs.

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