For welding student Luke Andersen

Chilliwack students competing in Skills BC

23 Chilliwack high school students are competing in Thursday's Skills BC event at UFV Trades and Technology Centre.

Welding student Luke Andersen is one of 23 Chilliwack high school students competing in Skills Canada British Columbia on Thursday.

Skills BC organizes the annual largescale competition showcasing and promoting trades. For 18-year-old Andersen, a career in trades just makes financial sense.

“I’m not going to be stuck with a bill paying off my education. Whenever the economy is down, trades is the foundation,” he says.

Thursday’s competition will see 20 Sardis Secondary School students and three from Chilliwack Secondary School go up against other Upper Fraser Valley students at the University of Fraser Valley Trades and Technology Centre. They will compete in 2D and 3D computer animation, architectural and mechanical computer-aided design, automotive service, cabinetmaking, video production, and welding.

Since signing on to the woodworking program at Sardis S.S. two years ago, senior Benjamin Willms is preparing to compete in Skills BC for the second time in cabinetmaking. The challenge lies in “putting pieces together,” as he calls it, according to Skills BC’s basic directions. Last year, competitors received a sheet of pine, and if they did it right, ended up with a sliding top box. In Fraser Valley’s small pool of cabinetmaking champions, Willms won gold. He didn’t place in provincials, but he’s running through the hoops again because the competition looks great on academic and job applications.

Similarly, Jamie Stroomer learned how to create electronic architectural drawings through his Sardis S.S. series of computer drawing classes, and now is showcasing his skill at the competition. He “definitely” wants to go into architecture, and his Skills BC participation will look great on a resume. He is in the secondary school apprenticeship program, and works with his dad in home renovations.

Andersen is a strident proponent of his own ACE-IT welding program, which provides him with nearly a full scholarship to attend UFV’s first-year welding course, all the while maintaining his high school senior status. A program that would normally cost about $5,000 is only costing him $360 in supplies.

“It’s a good system. To anyone who’s good with their hands, I recommend the program in a heartbeat.”

Andersen hopes to attend BCIT’s heavy-duty mechanic program come fall.

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