LIMA — Students traveled from as far as Cincinnati to demonstrate their knowledge of HVAC systems Friday, competing against one another to see who could troubleshoot a faltering air conditioner or solder parts for a furnace as part of the HVAC division of SkillsUSA’s annual championship.
The competition draws thousands of Ohio high school students to Columbus each year. Because of the pandemic, SkillsUSA hit the road this year and hosted individual contests in cities like Lima.
SkillsUSA offers vocational training and contests in everything from nursing to culinary arts. Friday’s contest was focused on the art of heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
“There’s so many (HVAC) jobs out there, and it’s hard to find people,” said Brad Wendel, business manager for the UA Local 776, which represents plumbers, pipefitters and other service technicians in Lima. “So, to get students of high school age involved in it and interested in it is invaluable.”
The UA Local 776 played host to the HVAC contest on Friday in partnership with the University of Northwestern Ohio.
Jackie Walker, state director for SkillsUSA Ohio, said the contest is an opportunity for students to not only show off their skills but to interact with industry representatives.
Students on Friday competed in three HVAC challenges before taking part in mock interviews and reviewing their resumes, gathering crucial feedback on their skills and interview performance before heading into the workforce.
“We are a practice environment for the real world,” Walker said.