Seeing young electrical students compete in the Residential Wiring contest at the SkillsUSA Championships brought back memories for a retired electrician.

“The contest has been going on for nine years and I’ve been judging it for seven,” Ralph Matzdorvf said.

Matzdorvf met a group of 30 electricians at the union headquarters and carpooled down to the SkillsUSA championships June 27 at H. Roe Bartle Hall in Kansas City, Mo. After the contestants spent hours perfecting their residential projects, the team of judges walked around with their clipboards to critique the workmanship, safety and Code compliance of the installations. Wayne Sword, a retired journeyman electrician from Wachter Electric, said the contestants hooked up a three-way switch, bent conduit and put in a service.

"I think they are getting some good experience and will learn a lot," Sword said. "Their installations will be judged on the Code and how well they complete the job."

Down the aisle, about 40 high-school and post-secondary students competed in another electrical competition--Industrial Motor Controls. Rick Mead of Smiley Electric said he was judging the competition for the second year.

"We're looking at their mechanical skills, ability to put things together, perform work safely and do it in a timely manner," Mead said. "They have to wire a box that is similar to a motor control." The electrical students also competed in two other competitions--TeamWorks and Telecommunications Cabling.

Young electricians worked with a mason, plumber and carpenter to complete a team project for the TeamWorks competition. SkillsUSA also introduced Telecommunications Cabling as a limited demonstration contest this year. If successful, it will return as a permanent part of the SkillsUSA Championships.

Along with electrical students, future bakers, welders, photographers and nursing students competed in SkillsUSA. More than 4,000 career and technical education students pursued gold medals and prizes in 73 trade, technical and leadership events, which were judged by about 1,500 judges and contest organizers from labor and management. The contest gave the best students from each industry the opportunity to show off their work and compete against the clock.

"They represent the best of our nation as far as people being trained," said Mead of Smiley Electric.


Contestants in residential wiring are tested on their ability to install wiring in a residence working from drawings and specifications sheets. Professional electricians judge the contestants on the basis of general workmanship, accuracy of layout and installation, adherence to National Electrical Code and safety. The test consists of two parts--conduit bending and the simulated wiring of two or more rooms of a typical residence. The wiring will be judged according to standard residential wiring practices and the National Electrical Code.

Residential Wiring (High School)

  • Gold. Zachary Unger, Lehigh Career & Technical Institute, Schnecksville, Pa.
  • Silver. Aaron Vaughan, Chesterfield Tech Ctr, Chesterfield, Va.
  • Bronze. Kevin Hall, Center Of Applied Tech-South, Edgewater, Md.
Residential Wiring (Postsecondary)
  • Gold. Jay Poulos, Guilford Tech Community College, Jamestown, N.C.
  • Silver. Evan Nyhof, Mitchell Tech Sch, Mitchell, S.D.
  • Bronze. Jeremy Tingvold, St. Paul Tech, St. Paul, Minn.

The contestant is required to install electrical wiring and other devices used in an industrial setting; design and troubleshoot electrical diagrams using the proper test instruments; and, demonstrate the proper and safe use of hand tools. All of the work must conform to the specifications of the National Electrical Code.

Industrial Motor Control (High School)

  • Gold. Thomas McCarter, Center Of Applied Tech-South, Edgewater, Md.

  • Silver. Nick Dascoulias, Dover Hs & Regional Ctr, Dover, N.H.

  • Bronze. Chad Luptowski, St. Joseph Co Isd, Centreville, Mich.

Industrial Motor Control (Postsecondary)

  • Gold. Curtis Steinert, N Central Ks Tech College, Beloit, Kan.

  • Silver. Lucas Owen, Danville Community College, Danville, Va.

  • Bronze. Blaine Bechtel, Chattahoochee Tech Inst, Marietta, Ga.

This contest is designed for students interested in the physical aspects of voice and data network cabling and installation. The contest focuses on cabling issues related to data and voice connections and provides an understanding of the industry and its worldwide standards, types of media and cabling, physical and logical networks, as well as signal transmission. Students will demonstrate skills in reading network design documentation, part list set up and purchase, pulling and mounting cable, cable management, choosing wiring closets and patch panel installation and termination as well as installing jacks and cable testing. The hands-on, lab-oriented contest stresses documentation, design, and installation issues, on-the-job safety, and working effectively in group environments.

Telecommunications Cabling (High School)

  • Gold. Tyler Denney, Tulsa Tech-Riverside, Tulsa, Okla.

  • Silver. Cole Martin, Herndon Career Ct, Raytown, Mo.
  • Bronze. Mark Morris, Cumberland Co Tech, Bridgeton, NJ.
Telecommunications Cabling (Postsecondary)
  • Gold. Kenneth Coffey, East Central Tech Inst, Fitzgerald, Ga.
  • Silver. Clifton Watson, Tulsa H S For Science & Technology, Tulsa, Okla.

  • Bronze. Brendan Schoen, Illinois Central College, E Peoria, Ill.

In the TeamWorks contest, students will work in a team of four to build a joint project, demonstrating preparation for employment and excellence and professionalism in the fields of residential carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electricity and teamwork skills.

TeamWorks (High School)

  • Gold. Lorain Co Jvs, Kowalczyk, Oberlin, Ohio
  • Silver. Sun Atc, DiBonaventura, New Berlin, Penn.
  • Bronze. Bay Path Rvths, Smith, Charlton, Mass.

TeamWorks (Postsecondary)

  • Gold. Salt Lake Community College, Hansen, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Silver. N Central KS Tech College, Machart, Beloit, Kan.
  • Bronze. Yavapai College, Morrison, Prescott, Ariz.


Here are some quick statistics on the SkillsUSA Championships. For more information, visit the SkillsUSA Web site .

Contestants. 4,000.

Total contests. 73.

Skilled trade contests. 45.

Health contests. 7.

Occupationally-related contests. 5.

Leadership contest. 12.

Demonstration contests. 5.

Contest judges. 1,000-1,200 from industry and labor.

Technical Committee members. About 650.

Area covered. 525,000 sq. ft. (equivalent to the area of more than nine football fields).

Awards that were presented. 1,370 medals, 24 trophies and 79 plaques.

Total in-kind contributions from industry and education (in donated time, equipment and material) exceeds $25 million.