Redmond Students Make Oregon Proud

Three students from Redmond High School who are part of the Panther Tech Manufacturing Team in Redmond, Oregon, recently beat out many high school students across Oregon to win Gold in Automated Manufacturing Technology as part of SkillsUSA Oregon. Dan Kernion, their teacher, was formerly a CNC programmer at Breedlove Guitars but has been a high school teacher at Redmond High school for over 5 years.

Juniors Jack Mckenzie, Henry Chambers, and Derek Karr are all certified in solid works and will head to Louisville Kentucky in June to compete at SkillsUSA nationals.

More than 16,000 outstanding career and technical education students – all state contest winners –– will compete hands-on in 103 different trade, technical and leadership fields. Students work against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations such as precision machining.

Contests are run with the help of industry, trade associations and labor organizations, and test competencies are set by industry. The Automated Manufacturing event consists of students creating a part, live, in front of a judge and an audience. Students can help each other but cannot change their pre-assigned roles. The contest includes real-life challenges like change orders and revisions right in the middle of the project. Last year, no high school teams were able to finish their parts on time. It’s challenging. Dan says,

“This event is a big deal to these students. It shows them just how hard they’ve worked and how far they’ve come. Just being at nationals is a tremendous accomplishment”

What is SkillsUSA?

The Skills USA national competition includes contests for everything from automotive welding to construction or cake decorating. SkillsUSA Oregon, is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry working together to ensure Oregon has a skilled workforce. This national student organization serves students enrolled in career and technical education training programs in high schools and colleges to promote community service and establish industry standards for job skill training in and out of the classroom. They are most well known for their annual yearly competition.

Why This Is An Opportunity for Students… And Manufacturers

This event allows Oregon students to pit themselves against much more experienced competition. Dan points out that the east coast is home to many technical schools – students have been practicing their craft for longer. This year, Kernion says, he hopes to see Oregon students reach the top 10 in the nation. He believes this team has the skills to make it happen.

You never know what’s going to happen at nationals. The benefits of the students getting out there and seeing how excited other kids are is extremely influential in their success.

From a company perspective, the wins are obvious. Students learn soft skills such as communication and teamwork. They are also building excitement and interest in manufacturing, honing some of the most sought after skills in the industry. The more we can do to support these talented individuals, the more the message is carried forward to others who may be open to careers in manufacturing.

The competition can also lead to real-world business benefits for manufacturers. One of the competitors recently interned at a local manufacturer in the Redmond area. They designed a part for the company, presenting their design and making modifications as they were requested. Dan was not involved in the process aside from coaching. He let the students handle communication with the company, create their pitch, and modify the design. Ultimately the manufacturer purchased the design and the students built it. This is a great example of students, manufacturers, and educators partnering to foster the next generation of manufacturers.

How You Can Support

As an Oregon manufacturer, you can support this effort in a few ways. Students are accepting support for the trip to nationals. If you’d like to support them contact Dan Dan.Kernion@redmond.k12.or.us 541-923-4800 x1949

SkillsUSA Oregon is always looking for industry partners to participate in a number of ways, including:

  • Participate on the Board of Champions (Board of Trustees)
  • Attend events sponsored by SkillsUSA Oregon
  • Assist in judging competitions
  • You can learn more about these opportunities here:

When June rolls around we will all be rooting for these exceptional students!