Michael Christensen placed seventh at the WorldSkills competition held in London

Computer whiz-kid takes on the world

The computer-aided design wunderkind Michael Christensen spent more than a year training for the international WorldSkills competition.

For Michael Christensen, training for WorldSkills was like training for a marathon.

The computer-aided design wunderkind spent more than a year training for the international competition, starting out slow with just a few hours a week, and gradually building up to a dedicated 8-10 hours a day.

He practiced modeling different objects, tested himself in speed and endurance, and participated in several specialized skill training sessions and projects. He started up a new company, 5.0 Design Co., to fine tune his skills in a range of areas. And as the competition grew nearer, he packed his bags and moved to Langley where he could put all efforts into training with no distractions. He left behind family, friends, girlfriend.

“My preparation period was very intense,” the 20-year-old told The Progress in an email interview. The competition, “was definitely more intense than anything else I have ever competed in.”

His hard work paid off.

In the category of mechanical engineering design, Christensen placed 7th at the WorldSkills competition held from Oct. 5-8 in London, UK. He is the top placed Canadian ever to compete and was awarded a medallion for excellence.

But like all ace competitors, Christensen was initially disappointed with the placing. He’s used to coming in first.

“I felt very disappointed to have worked so hard, but to not actually win the event,” he said. “I gave it everything I had, competed better than I ever have in the past, and worked to a level I never knew I could achieve. I know there is nothing else I could have done. I was as prepared as I was ever going to be and I gave it my all.

“In the end, it just came down to the fact that everyone who competed was fantastic. And the margin of separation was very slim as far as marking went, only by a few per cent along the top 10,” he said.

The competition had 1,000 young competitors from 51 countries competing in 46 different skills. In Christensen’s category, he was up against 20 other competitors, and was just 30 points off from gold, 12 from bronze.

Competitors from Brazil, Singapore and Switzerland took gold, silver and bronze respectively.

“I achieved 7th … which is the best any Canadian has placed in this category,” said Christensen. “I feel very proud knowing that and I am confident that I was able to do my country proud.”

Over four days, Christensen and his fellow competitors were given four projects to complete in a specified time frame.

They had to model missing parts for a remote-controlled car; design and model welded frames for an automotive assembly plant; and design a worm gear system to drive a metering pump, which had an interfering component that they had to identify and redesign. They had to create assembly drawings, rendered images, three-dimensional flyover animations, and more.

“The challenges were very difficult, much harder than any I’ve ever encountered during a competition,” said Christensen. “Some of the projects were even designed so that we could not finish all of the tasks and actually had to choose our priorities.”

With more than 2,000 spectators watching, some might have caved in to their nerves. But not Christensen. After eight competitions regionally, provincially, nationally, he was well versed in calming the butterflies. And if at any time, he felt overwhelmed, he knew he had support near and far.

“I had many people cheering me on; my friends and family back home, my girlfriend and her family, and various companies I worked with who helped me through my training period,” he said. “My mom, dad, brother and sister even flew out to cheer me on during my final competition days.

“It was fantastic knowing I had so many people rooting for me all over the world. I know I couldn’t have done it without him.”

For many people coming off a marathon experience, they’re not too quick to commit to another. But Christensen, he’d do it in a heartbeat.

“Of course I would do it again,” he said. “It is a fantastic experience that I would recommend to anyone.”

kbartel@theprogress.com

Just Posted

New ‘meowyoral’ race featuring felines announced by Chilliwack animal shelter

Organizers hope the cat election will generate attention for both the shelter and municipal election

VIDEO: Education Minister talks SOGI 123 and the Chilliwack school board election

He said people are making ‘noise about side issues but student safety is important’

Chilliwack athletes win provincial titles at Cultus Lake Triathlon

Close to 700 athletes competed in several distances, with action starting at Cultus Lake Park.

Chilliwack Chiefs add defenceman Alexander Marrocco

Marrocco is the younger brother of PJ Marrocco, a forward from last spring’s RBC Cup champions.

Rally in the Valley in Chilliwack to talk stewardship

It’s an event to connect interested locals with groups making a difference with species at risk

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Possible shooting on Abbotsford street near Aldergrove

Witnesses report what sounded like 4 shots fired Tuesday evening, but that has not been confirmed

5 to start your day

B.C. parents sue after toddler dies in unlicensed daycare, vehicle explodes in Pitt Meadows and more

B.C. woman facing animal cruelty charges after emaciated dog seized

Kira, a Rottweiler, had kidney and bladder infections

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too

Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon.

Dozens speak at Vancouver hearing that could see duplexes replace single homes

The city clerk says 73 people signed up to speak at the hearing that began early Tuesday evening and adjourned hours later with 34 speakers still waiting.

North Carolina gov pleads with storm evacuees to be patient

The death toll rose to at least 37 in three states Tuesday, with 27 fatalities in North Carolina.

North and South Korea say they plan to bid for 2032 Olympics

Moon and Kim announced a sweeping set of agreements including a vow to work together to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

Russia’s reinstatement after doping scandal goes to a vote

The World Anti-Doping Agency is due to vote Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, on possible reinstatement of Russia.

Most Read