CNM Student Wins Gold Medal at National SkillsUSA Championships

June 29, 2016 -- A CNM welding student continued the college’s tradition of excellence at the National SkillsUSA Championships, winning a gold medal at the nation’s largest gathering of Career Technical Education students. The event was held last week in Louisville, Ky., where 6,000 CTE students from around the country put their skills to the test.
June 29, 2016

CNM’s gold medal winner was Nicholas Blodgett in the welding competition. He graduated from CNM in 2014 and is now working as a head welder for Stainless Motors, which builds food processing and pharmaceutical motors. He continues to take welding classes at CNM to build on his skills.

“All the areas in which I competed at SkillsUSA I learned at CNM,” Blodgett said.

As a youngster, he was homeschooled and worked with his father who did various contractor jobs. He came to CNM to learn welding, where he touched welding equipment for the first time.

In 2014 he landed a job as a welder at Stainless Motors and in 2015 became head welder.

Blodgett said he is tremendously proud of winning the gold medal and thinks it will add to his résumé. He is not only the first CNM student to win a gold medal in the national welding competition, but the first New Mexican to win gold. Only two other New Mexicans have placed in the welding competition and they won silver.

His welding competition included stick welding, mig welding, tig welding, flex core welding and flame cutting. He was presented a blueprint by SkillsUSA and had to execute the welding plan in the competition. As part of the competition judging, he also had to take a written test, had his weld station inspected and answered mock interview questions.

He was the only CNM student to medal at the the national event.

Other CNM students who competed at the national SkillsUSA Championships were Jesus Martinez, Architectural Drafting; Shane Callaway, Cabinet Making; Eric Freddie, Carpentry; Tate Whiteman, Electrical Construction Wiring; April Vezie, Extemporaneous Speech; Christopher Rose, Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR); Daniel Mikawa, Industrial Motor Control; Ignacio Vargas, Related Technical Math; Christopher Baca, Sheet Metal; Joshua Lucero, Welding Fab Team A; Frederick McRee, Welding Fab Team A; Kayle Miller, Welding Fab Team A; and Christopher Wood, Welding Sculpture.

The CNM students participating in the national championships qualified for the event by taking first place in their competitions during the state SkillsUSA competitions.

The CNM Executive Council of Students sponsored the CNM students at the SkillsUSA event, which involved funding for all the students that competed and two of their advisors.

The SkillsUSA championships was attended by more than 16,000 people and featured more than 100 competitions testing students’ career technical skills in fields ranging from welding to dental assisting to 3-D animation. It also serves as a highly valuable networking opportunity for the students, since industry representatives also use the event as a recruiting opportunity.

SkillsUSA is a national organization that serves Career Technical Education programs in public high schools, career and technical centers and two- and four-year colleges.