For most visitors who come to Reno and find themselves downtown, probably many locals as well, the area draws them to the fast-pace of gaming, the glitz of the lights, the glamour of the showgirls and the gaiety of music and dancing in the clubs and lounges. However, amongst the Biggest Little City in the World’s dreams of winning big, there are people helping to ensure the next year of graduating students will win big in life. Under the big top of Circus Circus, while gamblers bet their money hoping for a huge payout, and youngsters yearned for a stuffed animal, April 12 – 15 saw a group of students ensuring their success and a chance to win big at life. Tim Conley, Welding and Engineering Instructor at Reed High School in Sparks, and 15 of his advanced program students attended Skills USA Nevada State Championship competition.
Conley’s students are part of The Enterprise Project, one of the four-year themed Signature Academies in Washoe County. The Project’s theme is Civil and Environmental Engineering, offering Automotive, Metalworking, Engineering, Solid Works, Biomedical, and Human Services. Students apply to the Signature Academy in eighth grade and, if accepted, work at a rigorous pace to ready themselves for their future after high school. Students can receive college credit, scholarships, interviewing skills, and advanced knowledge of their field of study; Conley tries to ensure his students leave with certification in AWS (American Welding Society).
For the students of The Enterprise Project, not only do they look forward to working with their own dedicated counselor to find them scholarships, colleges, or job opportunities in their future, they get the chance to participate in the annual Skills USA Nevada State Championships. This important event offers the students a chance to demonstrate their physical skills, exemplify their written knowledge of the subject, and have an interview representing their overall knowledge and understanding of their chosen field.
This year, participants in The Project performed extremely well in the Competition, with 2/3 of the team going home with medals – 10 students out of the 15 who went. They competed in five skill competitions: welding, welding fabrication, welding sculpture, machining, and sheet metal.
WELDING: Gold – Nathaniel Leslie (Senior); Silver – Trent Cocking (Senior); Bronze – Jeremy Holm (Senior). This category awarded scholarships to UTI (Universal Technical Institute), Gold – $15K, Silver – $10K, Bronze – $5K.
WELDING FABRICATION: (Team) Bronze – Dante Owens (Senior), Sebastian Ortega-Cruz (Senior), Chris Aguero-Mejia (Senior).
MOBILE ROBOTICS: (Team) Silver – Eric Duong (Junior), Christian Cruz (Junior).
SHEET METAL: Gold – Shemar Wiggins (Senior), Abby Taylor (Senior – only female on the team to win a medal).
“It was a banner year for us,” opines Conley of the competition, “we have never won the gold in welding, and we’ve won sheet metal (now) four years in a row.”
The gold medal winners are all eligible to go on to the national competition in Kentucky on June 20, where they are eligible for top prizes of tools, machinery, and greater scholarships. This year, representing The Enterprise Project, Shemar Wiggins (Sheet Metal) and Nathaniel Leslie (Welding) will head to Kentucky to participate in the contest under the watchful eye of their proud instructor, Tim Conley.