Tinton Falls, NJ, May 12, 2010 – On Saturday, May 8th the statewide competition for SkillsUSA took place in Somerset, NJ at the Garden State Exhibit Center.  This all day event allows vocational students to compete in their individual areas of study.   SkillsUSA is a great competitive opportunity for vocational students as it seeks “to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance, and to keep training relevant to employers’ needs.”

Matthew Olmsted, a Junior and HVAC (heating, cooling and ventilation) student at East Brunswick Vocational School, was able to compete in this recent SkillsUSA competition through a sponsorship from local heating and cooling company, A.J. Perri  The HVAC competition was a full day, starting at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m.  The students had to complete a series of tests to compete, from soldering and braising stations, to HVAC problem diagnosing stations, and finally, a written exam. 

Once the competition was complete, the results were tallied and the day was completed with an awards ceremony.  Students received bronze, silver or gold medals for their efforts.  The winners of this competition also have the opportunity to win several scholarships that are available.  In addition, the gold medal winners have the opportunity to compete nationally in the SkillsUSA championships that take place in Kansas City, MO in late June.  This championship competition provides a showcase for the best career technical students in the nation.

Matthew’s teacher, George Gent Jr., states, “This is a wonderful experience for my students and a great way to demonstrate their skills and talents.  I’ve been teaching for 7 years and we have competed every year.  I enjoy being part of this competition, watching it build individuals’ confidence and seeing how it changes individuals’ lives.  A.J. Perri is a great local company that not only supports the students in this competition but helps them later with employment opportunities.”

Although Matthew did not walk away with a medal in this year’s competition, he improved his results from last year and is looking forward to competing again in 2011.  Last year’s HVAC gold winner, Dan Hullings, was also sponsored by A.J. Perri Heating and Cooling, and won a $10,000 scholarship.  Dan is now an employee of A.J. Perri

The SkillUSA competition, according to Gent, causes a ripple effect.  This ripple effect starts with the pride that students get from competing in the event and results in students gaining more confidence in their abilities.   And with this renewed confidence, students are also able to make connections that will help further their future careers.  The SkillsUSA competition is a win-win for all who are involved, the students, the teachers and future employers!

A.J. PerriA.J. Perri is a family-owned business dedicated to providing total home comfort for their New Jersey neighbors.  Based in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, they have nearly 40 years of experience in the heating and air conditioning, and plumbing industry.  They service those in Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer and southern Middlesex counties. For more information, visit their website at www.ajperri.com.