Washburn Tech students take home medals from national competition

Cory Petit and Tristan Hughes won silver and bronze medals, respectively at the SkillsUSA national competition in Kansas City June 24.

Petit, who won his silver medal in a competition for Collision Repair Technology, will be a senior at Shawnee Heights High School in the fall. Petit said there were nearly 40 people represented in his high school level that he competed against from across the U.S. and its territories.

Topeka area students can attend Washburn Tech beginning their junior year in high school, which is what Petit did this past year. He plans to attend WU Tech his senior year and move on to Washburn University when he graduates from high school, working part time in an auto body shop.

“I had to take an ASE test,” said Petit.

ASE is short for National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. ASE is an independent non-profit organization that certifies quality vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive workers. I-Car is certification for collision repair, which Petit says you can test for through Washburn Tech.

Petit says he was introduced to the WU Tech program by a neighbor who was in a collision repair program there. 

Petit gives a lot of credit to his teacher, Eric Showalter.

“Mr. Showalter is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had,” said Petit. “He really cares enough to do anything he can to help us out and to make sure we really learn. He enjoys teaching.”

Hughes won the bronze medal for auto body refinishing. He also had to take a written ASE test and face a job interview.

This year Hughes graduated from high school and from Washburn Tech and he plans on to stay working in the field. He has already been doing so for the past three years and enjoys what he does.  He now paints cars in preparation for painting.

Hughes also credits Eric Showalter for much of what he’s learned.

“He spent a lot of time after hours,” said Hughes. “He was like another dad to me. He‘s awesome. He spent a lot of time with us and wants people to succeed. He works really hard.”  

The SkillsUSA program at the national level is comprised of 6,000 high school and post high school students. They compete against the clock and against each other. This year, 19 WU Tech students qualified for the SkillsUSA competition at the national level.