By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — McCann Technical School students brought home a gold medal from the automated manufacturing technology competition and a bronze medal in dental assisting from the SkillsUSA National Competition.
Graduating seniors Madison Gigliotti, William Kipp and Salvador Alcala, and postsecondary student Carey Contini returned from Louisville, Ky., as champions in their respective fields.
“To come back and to be able to say you are the best in the country is a big deal,” Superintendent James Brosnan said. “It is the major leagues and it’s a hell of an honor for them to represent the school.”
Gigliotti, Kipp and Alcala, who won the AMT competition, started the school year with a simple goal — win gold or go home.
“We didn’t make it to the national level last year and we got a silver medal at the state level losing to another McCann team,” Kip said. “So this year we went for the gold so we trained all year … we brought ourselves to a new level.”
Kipp said the team is a mixture of computer-assisted drafting and machine tech students and that they had to work together to create an automotive part, which in this case happened to be a small fan.
“Basically we are given a product that someone wanted manufactured and we had a rough napkin sketch,” he said. “We were rapidly prototyping a part or a product and we had six hours to do it.”
He said one team member made the 3D model on the computer and prepared the specs, another prepared the coding that would allow the machine to make the part and the machinist operated the machine to create and cut the part.
The team even had to deal with a change order that came through and had to make another component that would spin the fan.
Gigliotti said the team also had to fill out paperwork and a math worksheet
She said the competition was tense, but the team learned to work together.
“You definitely get to learn how to work with two people for a long time … and there were some fights and bickering,” she laughed. “But I think us three just work so well together and we can put our noses down and do our work.
“We knew what we have to do; we have been doing it for four years now.”
Machine technical teacher Scott Botto, who attended the weeklong competition, said it was impressive watching his students compete among the best in the country.
“You are sitting on the sidelines watching all the other state teams work and you know they sent their best,” he said. “It was fun to watch and watch them grow, and it is pretty close to exactly what we do in the industry.”
Principal Justin Kratz said the team had been determined to suceed since starting the 2016 school year.
“The drive they had this year was the best. They came back from states last year and said gold or go home,” he said. “We have had a lot of kids do well at these competitions but this group, they made it known Sept. 1 that they were bringing home the gold.”
Contini, who won the bronze medal, had a different experience at the competition and unlike the AMT team, she had to work entirely on her own.
“It was a mix of secondary and postsecondary student in the dental assisting competition,” she said. “Going in older, I stepped out of my comfort zone but it was exciting and I had a lot of fun.”
“I wanted to medal, too, if I was going all of the way to Kentucky.”
Contini said she had to take four different written exams and go through 16 different stations.
“There were some girls there that were very competitive but it flowed well for me,” she said. “I have been in dentistry for quite a while and I wanted to specialize so I came to this program. I am competitive by nature so it felt pretty good.”
Contini, who also won gold at the state level, attributed her success to her experience in the field and her teacher at McCann, Michele Racette.
“My teacher was wonderful and I love dentistry and I got a job in my first rotation so it paid off,” she said.
Brosnan said the SkillsUSA competition is a different experience for postsecondary students, who often are already in the field and have other responsibilities
“It is outstanding anytime we can send someone out to represent McCann and North County and there is a different mindset and professionalism with postsecondary competitors,” he said. “They may have a board test, exams or whatever else and then by the way, you have to get on a plane and fly to Kentucky, so the stress is different.”
Brosnan said at all age levels, SkillsUSA is life changing.
“It is an important experience and it builds character and is not just a set of skills,” he said. “It molds you for life and gives you those standards.”
Carey Contini, a recent graduate of the postsecondary dental assisting program, won bronze at the national competition.
McCann’s AMT team at work at Nationals.