For the past four years, Carlson’s Collision owner, Craig Carlson has been volunteering his time as a judge for various regional MN SkillsUSA events. MN SkillsUSA is a national organization dedicated to helping “its student members become world-class workers and responsible American citizens.” Playing a critical role in our future skilled workforce, the multi-faceted SkillsUSA competition gives students an opportunity to compete in chosen areas and gain practical insight from judges experienced in each of the given areas.
Craig is a judge for the welding part of the collision repair competition. Students must participate in all skill areas within a category, so students competing in the welding portion of collision repair will have also competed in areas like estimating, refinishing, plastic repair, painting, and frame repair. This past April Craig judged the competition held at St. Cloud Technical College. As part of the welding competition, participants are given a set amount of time to practice when they arrive at the welding station. When the time is up, they are given three opportunities to weld a project and allowed to submit their self-determined top two best entries. Judges review the entries against a checklist of items, scoring points. Some of the judging criteria include assessing welder set-up, use of proper safety precautions, and non-destructive testing on the final product.
The field of collision repair is advancing with technology, introducing many more methods beyond steel welding. This was the final year for “welding” as an isolated category, as future years it will be called “attachment methods” and include skills associated with aluminum welding, panel bonding and riveting, and other hot topics in the collision industry that extend well beyond steel welding.
“Participating in the judging process is an excellent experience for me, as well as participants. It’s an opportunity to help tomorrow’s skilled workforce gain practical experience, as I keep my finger on the pulse of what our technical schools are instructing. I am happy to share that after the first year I volunteered as a judge, I was able to hire one of the students I judged. He is still working at Carlson’s Collision,” Craig shares.