Friday, June 27, 2014

There IS Hope For The Future After All ....

For everyone out there (including me) who thought the kids nowadays would probably just turn the earth into another giant Woodstock welfare line, there really is hope for the future ... and I saw it yesterday at the Skills USA competitions in Kansas City.  They are celebrating their 50th Anniversary, so I pretty much think they will be around for a long time to come.

There are many categories and competitions, as you will see below.  Tom and Barbara Westerfield invited me to be a judge this year at the Job Interview Competition their daughter Jenny chairs every year, and I'm SOOO glad they did.  The final 20 Secondary (high school) kids were from all over the U.S. and I can't tell you how impressed I was with the demeanor, attitude and professionalism they exhibited.  There are also finalists from Post Secondary, like community college, some young, some much older.  While their job applications were judged by another, our panel of three judged their resumes (which could have used a little help) and then interviewed them.  In my neighborhood I've never met kids like this ... what I mean is, I'm SURE these kids can run the world with no problem.  What a shock!!!

This program is spitting out HIGH SCHOOL kids that can build a house, doing all the electrical, plumbing, roofing and masonry.  This team building competition had 44 teams of 4 kids each, including some females, that built small versions of a house.
The house shows their skills in steel studs as well as wood, electrical, plumbing, masonry, roofing, siding and window installation, completely built from scratch using plans. 
From here on I'm showing all individual competitions.  Each station below was an electrical installation.  The blank two walls on the right??  That's all they had to start with.  Plans in hand, they have to figure out what they need, pick it up at the "store", gather their tools and complete the project.
Plumbing ... above AND below floor including copper tubing and every kind of joint imaginable.
These guys built a dormer window ... like the one on top of your house.  At the end, each is judged and the top three are awarded medals ... and TONS of amazing prizes (everything they would need to go to work tomorrow) along with scholarships or just plain cash.  These were the hardest working kids I've ever seen ... and yes, there were girls here too!!
Independent Electrical Contractors ... each group had an allotted time in which to complete their project.
Did you know California has these programs??  I sure didn't ... never even heard of it.  They don't have ALL of them ... masonry isn't one thats in my State ... but it was included here.  Now I'm not saying everyone is perfect ... I probably wouldn't want this nice kid to construct my outdoor kitchen barbecue, but he never gave up.  He just kept working until he was done, and he gets big "ups" from me for that!!  So does the girl who had to tear it down and rebuild because she forgot the two concrete blocks in the middle.  Come on ... they're in High School!!!
One of the more interesting competitions was cosmetology.  There were some pretty weird "doos" that wouldn't be my piece of cake, but they were amazing to see!!
There were commercial bakers ... their results being judged here.  You might want to pick and choose on this one ... some were a little overdone ... but that's fixable and you won't starve!!
Culinary ... who knew there were so many kids interested in owning their own restaurant!!  THIS competition filled the hall with the most amazing smells.  I would have eaten ANY of the meals prepared here!!
Hydraulic repairs ... Caterpillar supplied all the equipment for these competitions.  If you have a leak, they can fix it!!!
Motorcycle repair ... they only have two hours to replace the battery, change the oil and plugs and do two more complicated repairs that I can't remember!!  It took me two hours just to figure out how to GET to the battery on my Harley!!
Same kid still working ... I just wanted a picture of the Harley Judge.  I think maybe he knows Duck Dynasty!!  MY kind of guy!!  His twin brother was judging on the other end of the line.  Hey Dan Chance, do you know this gentleman???  Harley Davidson Motorcycles donated all the bikes and a nice Harley they were giving away in a raffle.
This was Esthetics I think ... makeup for movies.  Their competition was to make up their model for a part in an Avatar movie.  
A few of these girls (and guys) were years beyond the rest, creating amazing art like this one.
And THIS one ... 
I was very surprised to see Nikon here.  This is Photography ... right up my alley ... and the prizes they are giving away along with some cash.
They had to take four images around this area and make the composite (the top picture) using Photoshop CS6.  It's not easy folks ... took me two full years to learn just the basics of Photoshop.
Mig, Tig and Acetylene welding ... 
Robotics ... they had to build their machine, then go through rounds of competitions, including knocking the ball off the top and gathering up the small ones, placing them in a certain area.
Machining ... wow this is amazing.  Read the drawings, program the machine and cut out this part.  Very cool to watch!!
Furniture building ... from drawings, they had to cut every piece of wood and make this cabinet.  Pretty impressive!!
Here's some of the competitions I didn't show ... Advertising Design, Architectural Drafting, Audio/Radio Production, Automotive Refinishing Technology, Broadcast News Production, Heath Care Skills, Aviation Maintenance, Computer Maintenance, Criminal Justice, Crime Scene Investigation, Dental Assisting, Firefighting, Graphics Imaging, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning, Industrial Motor Control, Marine Service, Major Appliance Repair, Humanoid Robotics ... it just goes on and on!!

So I'm glad to know the world just might be in good hands after all!!  Tonight the closing ceremonies will be held back at Kemper Arena, next to this great sculpture to honor the Kansas City Stockyards that were once located here.  Kind of hard to see, but two panels (each from 1" steel) were cut out together, then erected three feet apart.  There were about six sections lined up together.  The cutouts weren't thrown away, they were placed on top of small mounds in the area to remind people of the Old West Stockyards.  
I sort of expected to see remnants of corrals, but since this was also the area where the slaughterhouses were and the smell wasn't exactly like roses, the entire place was leveled and replaced with brick buildings, most of which are now empty.  The American Royal Stock Shows are held here throughout the year ... and we will be having cocktails there tonight.  I'm sorry it's almost over, but my feet are looking forward to a long rest on the couch!!

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