Maple Ridge students show off woodworking, automotive skills

Westwood secondary hosted the Skills B.C. regional competition on Feb. 16.

Students at Westview secondary came out on top at the Skills Canada regional competition, in which their woodworking and automotive skills were put to the test.

Schools in the central Lower Mainland district, including those in Burnaby, Richmond, the Tri-Cities, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, were invited to take part in the day-long competition on Feb. 16, hosted by Westview.

In the cabinetmaking category, participants had to put together a shut-the-box game that involved a wooden box that opened and closed on hinges, and a row of concealed numbers that would swing up and down on a bar.

Students were given three pieces of wood, the hardware and instructions on how to make the game. They had five hours to complete the task.

“The idea was everybody build the same project and they build it according to the specifications,” explained Westview woodshop instructor Andy Strothotte.

Grade 10 Westview student Seth Unruh, who came in second place, said the competition was a lot of fun, but he was nervous going into it because they had no notion of what they would be making.

“It’s daunting at first, but once you put down all the instructions, what you need to do into a proceedure, it’s simple from there,” said Unruh.

“You really learn a lot from other people, as well as yourself doing this competition,” he said, most importantly making sure everything is square.

“Myself and Daniel both did this. Our ends weren’t square and so there was an angle on it and it wouldn’t sit flush with a flat surface. It teetered,” explained Unruh.

“That forced me and Daniel to glue the wood and the box together all at once so that they are square all together,” he said.

Westview’s Daniel Toma, Grade 12, who placed third, said making the top part of the game fit into the grooves in the sides of the box was the hardest part of the project, as well as making the hardware fit.

“It might not be the hardest thing, but the most frustrating thing,” he added.

Toma learned that in the competition time is both your friend and enemy.

“At the beginning time’s your friend because you can slow down and think about [the project],” he said.

“But towards the end, you really start rushing. He’s against you 100 per cent,” laughed Toma.

“The challenge is in the hand skills and being able to work with the equipment. You have to be precise with your cuts and your router placement,” added BCIT automotive instructor Greg Erho, whose students also competed.

The automotive service category included a 50-question written component, then six different stations, where competitors were judged out of 600 points. Six students had 45 minutes to complete each task.

Easiest was the tire removal and replacement station. Participants also had to do a tire assessment on a vehicle and balance the tire.

Another station was with an electrical board where they had to build a series of circuits and measure with a multi-metre to be able to check for current and voltage. There was an off-car starter test that was done on a testing board where bugs were placed and they had to diagnose the issues. Then they did on-car testing for a starter motor.

The toughest station, Erho said, was probably the one where students had to perform an electrical diagnostics on a car.

“Because it was diagnosing an engine code,” continued Erho.

“We put a bug inside the car and they had to use a scan tool and multi-metre and different test equipment to diagnose the problem with the car,” Erho continued.

Participants were judged the use of proper safety gear, proper use of tools and the ability to diagnose, fix or complete the task in the 45 minute time-frame.

“We have procedures that are laid out for them. They needed to use an online resource to find the procedures so once they do that they are able to work through the system and get the right answers,” said Erho.

Four schools took part in the competition, including Westview secondary, with BCIT, which runs the automotive program at the school, Dr. Charles Best secondary and Centennial secondary in Coquitlam, and Samuel Robertson Technical in Maple Ridge.

In automotive service, Zach Gallahar of Westview won gold, William Rowat of Westview won silver and Cristian Soper of Westview won bronze.

In cabinetmaking, Braeden Walton of Samuel Robertson Technical won gold, Unruh of Westview won silver and Toma of Westview won bronze.

The three winners in automotive received a half-inch electric impact gun and a 3/8 impact ratchet, both battery powered. Other participants received smaller tool kits and t-shirts and hats.

Winners of cabinetmaking received a chisel and mallot set. Strothotte made a plaque for first place.

Gold-medal winners qualify to compete in the 24th annual Skills B.C. Provincial Competition April 18 at Tradex in Abbotsford.

Unruh will be replacing Walton in the competition since Walton is unable to attend.

The competition will include everything from hairdressing to cake decorating, robotics, automotive, to landscaping to commercial industrial wiring and construction, to name a few.

Winners of the provincials will go on to the nationals being held in Edmonton June 4 and 5. Winners of the nationals will qualify to compete in the worlds, held every two years. The next world competition will be held in Kazan Russia Aug. 29 to Sept. 3, 2019.

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