Hinderman: Two top tech students continue to excel
By Laura Hinderman Citizen Journalistfirstname.lastname@example.org August 29, 2013 2:06PM
Carl Sandburg High School Students Tom Hahn (left) and Bryan Kincaid at the SkillsUSA conference. | Supplied photo
Updated: October 2, 2013 6:14AM
In April, students in Consolidated High School District 230 excelled at the Illinois Association of SkillsUSA during its 49th annual Leadership and Skills Conference in Springfield.
John Nanney, computer and network teacher at Sandburg High School in Orland Park, provided an update on two of the top students who participated in the three-day conference.
Tom Hahn, a 2013 graduate of Sandburg’s automotive service technology program, trained and studied under Sandburg automotive instructor Ron Morris for the SkillsUSA competition. Hahn ranked first in state and 18th in nationals during the automotive service technology portion of the competition.
Awarded more than $39,000 in scholarships to multiple automotive trade schools, Hahn chose to attend Joliet Junior College, even though JJC did not provide him with financial aid.
Hahn said that even with the other scholarships, the cost of attending JJC was comparable because he would be able to live at home and save on room-and-board costs.
“JJC greatly helped with my training. Their automotive program is very good and economically friendly,” said Hahn, who will become a master certified technician after two years.
At that point, he hopes to transfer to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale to study to become an automotive engineer.
“I want to design vehicles that reduce or eliminate carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases,” Hahn said. “I have some good ideas. They may not be new, but I look forward to working on them.”
Hahn is working at JJM Automotive in Oak Lawn and has transitioned into the workplace with the skills of a master mechanic. He speaks highly of JJM Automotive, describing it as “very professional and fair to their customers, and as a young technician, I appreciate how they teach patiently while I am working, letting me learn at my own pace.”
Hahn said a major benefit of taking part in the SkillsUSA competition is that “you will gain so much knowledge, and you will be prepared for the workplace.” He said he thought he knew a lot going in to the conference but learned much more.
“I gained knowledge but also learned about sportsmanship, modesty, how to behave and what to expect in the workplace,” he said.
Hahn said he still reflects on finishing first in state and 18th nationally in the auto tech category because “18th is still an amazing accomplishment — 18th out of the whole nation!”
Another District 230 student who excelled at the Skills USA contest was Bryan Kincaid, also a 2013 Sandburg graduate, who ranked first in state and fifth in nationals in computer maintenance and repair. His experience working in Sandburg’s program under Nanney set the foundation for what he considers a passion.
Kincaid is going to Moraine Valley Community College, which he chose because its dual credit option allowed him to get a head start and credit for the courses he took at Sandburg. He’s enrolled in MVCC’s Cisco Networking Program, studying under John Sands and Rick Moore, and chose the program “because it is a top-rated program and cost-effective for this field.” He hopes to finish his associate degree and secure a job in information technology.
Recently, the SkillsUSA Nationals organization asked Kincaid to join it as a contest judge and contest supervisor for both the state and national contests in computer maintenance and repair. He said it “will be very cool going back to be a judge. A few judges were former students already.”
As for the benefits of competing in the SkillsUSA events, Kincaid said it increases your ability to work under pressure, improves you ability to quickly diagnose and resolve issues and teaches customer service, both the technical knowledge and people skills.
“Everyone you meet there is an industry professional. One judge emailed me that he’d share my resume, so you are networking with industry people,” he said.
When asked if he would go through the challenges of the SkillsUSA competition again, he said, “I would redo it in a heartbeat.”