Students compete in two-day SkillsUSA contest

HARLINGEN — Sparks rushed into the air as Hermilo Martinez finished his welding fabrication project.

“I did alright,” said Hermilo, 17, after turning the project in to the judge yesterday at the SkillsUSA Texas District 13 Leadership and Skills Conference.

The Weslaco High School junior has been welding for two years and spent the past month preparing for the contest.

“I just practiced on pipe,” he said.

Hermilo was one of more than 3,000 students from throughout the Valley who competed in the two-day event at Texas State Technical College.

The event was going well, said Amancio Rodriguez, advisor to the SkillsUSA District 13 Board of Directors.

“I believe it was successful because of the hard work and the collaboration between high schools from the Valley and TSTC,” he said.

“We had professional judges come in from the industry.”

The events focused on skills students could continue to study after high school and even take in the workforce, Rodriguez said. The competitions included science, criminal justice, web design and engineering.

Rodriguez is also an Edinburg SkillsUSA advisor for the manufacturing program. He brought students to compete in four welding events.

Ezequiel Gutierrez, welding inspector for Palmer Steel Supply in McAllen, carefully judged welding projects spread across two tables.

“So far so good,” he said with a slight nod, still looking intently at the fabrication welding projects.

He’d already judged the welding applications projects at the other table.

“They’re not that bad,” he said. “They are beginners. They have potential.”

A very different kind of competition called Quiz Bowl tested students’ general academic knowledge.

The students from Grulla High School felt they did very well in both the Quiz Bowl and two other events.

“We answered most of the questions and we advanced to state,” said Monica Lopez, 17, who’d competed in Quiz Bowl along with four other students.

One of the questions in Quiz Bowl tested her knowledge of the Tenth Amendment, which states the federal government only has those powers delegated to it by the U.S. Constitution. The individual states have all other powers.

“We prepared for months,” she said happily, dressed in a red jacket. “We gave it our best.”

With so many students advancing to state by testing their knowledge and talent, it’s apparent they all gave their best through long hours of practice.


The individual events in the SkillsUSA Texas contests are listed under National Demonstration Contests, Occupationally Related Contests, Leadership Development Contests, Skilled and Technical Sciences Contests and Student Job Exhibits.

Beneath those titles are individual clusters. For example, within the category of Occupationally Related Contests is the Human Services cluster. Within that cluster are such contests as the government and public administration. That cluster also includes law, public safety and security.

The Leadership Development Contests includes extemporaneous speaking, prepared speaking and quiz bowl.

Within the Skilled and Technical Sciences Contests category are the competitions for architectural drafting, 3D imagining and animation, and welding.