SkillsUSA logoIt takes good teachers, a good program,
and lots of preparation

A group of Lake Havasu High School students are in training for a competition. Unlike an athletic competition, in this event boys and girls compete as equals. It is not muscles, but skill of hand and eye, brain power, and training that determine the winners. These students are preparing for the annual state level SkillsUSA competition where high school students show their skills at drafting, bridge building, and job interviewing. Drafting is broken down into both board and CAD (computer aided design), and mechanical and architectural.

Regional job interview winners Troy Hudson, Bryce Wilde, and Rey Orth.
Regional SkillsUSA 2007 job interview winners celebrate. (Left to right) Troy, Bryce, and Rey—all from Lake Havasu High School.

Lake Havasu High School drafting teacher Brian Aranguena has his students prepare for competition by coming in on Saturdays and working through actual problems from past contests. His methods seem to work since Lake Havasu High students returned from recent regional competition with all three medals (gold, silver, and bronze) in job interview, board architectural drafting, CAD architectural drafting, bridge building, and board mechanical drafting. Mr. Aranguena is in his fourth year at Lake Havasu High School. He says the keys to success at SkillsUSA competitions are having quality instruction for your students, having a well planned overall program, and preparation. He does his best to make sure his students have all three.

It is not just about winning medals. It is also about learning skills that can be used in the job market. In addition to whatever other event they may be entered in, Mr. Aranguena requires that all his advanced students enter the job interview competition. Filling out job applications, writing a resume, and doing oral interviews for the competition prepares them for doing the same in the real world.

Bridge is tested for load bearing capacity.
Bridge in special "bridge breaking" machine for testing.

You may wonder how the various competitions work. For drafting, students will be given a document which outlines a complicated design problem. (See a sample problem.) They will have 4 hours to sit down at their computers or drafting boards and draw the solution. Their drawings will be evaluated by judges looking for overall technique and whether or not they accomplished what the problem required. (You can see details of a prize-winning set of plans from the 2007 regional competition complete with judge's comments at plan 1 and plan 2.)

Using skills of the architect and engineer, bridge building contestants build small bridges using wood and glue. They are not told what the dimensions of their bridge will be until the competition starts. Their goal is to come up with the strongest bridge using the least amount of wood. Bridges are tested for strength in a special bridge breaking machine to measure how much weight they will support, and they are weighed to determine which bridge got the most strength from the least material. If someone is skilled enough to come up with a new design that is stronger and uses less material, everyone will be using that design at the next competition. Students must look for new ideas, but also remember the basic designs that work well. Our bridge building contestants are taught and prepared by Lake Havasu High industrial tech teacher Steve Paluch.

Lake Havasu High will be sending 40 students to the SkillsUSA state competition being held in the Phoenix Convention Center on April 23 and 24. We wish them all the best of luck. Your tax credit dollars help our SkillsUSA contestants pay for competition travel and lodging. To learn more about the tax credit program, please contact Jackie Taylor (928-505-6917 or

5/3/07 update- The SkillsUSA state competition is over.  Here is a list of our medal winners.

Job Interview: Morgan 2nd place.
Board Architectural: Ashley 1st place, Rey 2nd, and Troy 3rd.
Home Design: Haze and Tim 1st place, Brandon and Nick 2nd, and Roegun and Ryan 3rd.
Bridge Building: Keri 1st place and Delanie 3rd.

Photos of 2007 LHHS SkillsUSA regional winners. (Click picture for a larger view.)

architectural CAD winners.
Architectural CAD
Board architectural winners.
Board Architectural
Bridge building winners.
Bridge Building
Mexhanical board winners
Mechanical Board
Job interview winners.
Job Interview
Medals won since 2004
List updated 5/3/07