SAN BENITO — They’ve been studying curriculum by industry to learn exactly what their future employers need.

They’re also on track to hit the ground running toward their desired careers.

Students from San Benito CISD’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program — Nayeli Ramirez, Noe Lopez III, Peter Martinez and Noe Barrientos — placed first in the SkillsUSA state competition held recently in Corpus Christi.

The students will put their technical and leadership skills to the ultimate test this June in Louisville, Kentucky, at the 55th annual SkillsUSA national competition.

Ramirez, Lopez and Martinez are in the Arts, A/V Technology and Communication Career Cluster of the CTE program.

They competed together as a team in the Career Pathways Showcase contest.

Each team is required to select a specific issue and create a presentation about it that showcases skills they learned in the classroom.

Spreading awareness

Phishing, a cybercrime conducted via email or phone, was an issue Ramirez, Lopez and Martinez didn’t know very much about before the competition.

After conducting “countless hours” of research, they realized everyone should be aware of this issue.

Their discovery led them to create a cyber security awareness showcase.

“People are really careless with their information and nobody really pays attention to dangers such as phishing and hacking,” Lopez explained. “I think our creativity in showcasing this really stands out because it’s an issue other competitors haven’t spread awareness about before.”

Reaching nationals

Ramirez set a goal for herself at the beginning of her sophomore year.

“I’ve been aiming toward nationals for a really long time,” Ramirez said with a smile and a sigh of relief. “By going to nationals and creating the showcase, I believe it’s beneficial both for me and others. It’s like I’m killing two birds with one stone.”

CTE A/V Production teacher Joel Rodriguez said his students are going to be competing with about 20 teams at nationals.

“I’m really proud of them because of how dedicated they’ve been to their project,” he said. “I believe they’ll do well at nationals.”

Barrientos is in the Information Technology Career Cluster of the CTE program.

He competed in the Residential Installation and Maintenance contest.

“It’s been a very long process to reach nationals,” Barrientos said. “I’ve been in the CTE program for three years so I think all of that experience really helped prepare for the competition.”

Barrientos said the competition required mostly hands-on work and consisted of several parts.

Competitors had to complete tasks such as taking a written test, connecting a thermostat and determining where the power was, mounting an antenna on three different materials and properly punching down four pair cables.

“To prepare for the competitions, I would take my tool bag home to practice, make cables and study several questions,” Barrientos explained.

“I knew he had a good chance to make it to nationals because the previous year he had placed third at state,” said CTE Computer Maintenance Teacher Eduardo “Ed” Vela. “I think it’s a big accomplishment.”

Barrientos said he’s looking forward to being one of the top ones in the competition and be able to represent San Benito and Texas.

Did you know?

• 45 students in San Benito CISD’s Career and Technical Education program received first, second and third place in several contest categories at the SkillsUSA State Leadership Conference held in Corpus Christi.