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July 18, 2013

Whittier High graduate is tops at national SkillsUSA competition

A group of students from Whittier Tech went to the National SkillsUSA competition and one of them walked away with a coveted gold medal.

Nate Bernard of Bradford was one of only 19 students from Massachusetts to win gold. Whittier masonry student Steve Quimby of Amesbury won a silver medal, making this duo the best and second best in the country in their shop programs.

Bernard, valedictorian of Whittier’s 2013 graduating class, won his gold medal in the SkillsUSA electronics technology event while Quimby took second place in the masonry event. The 49th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership & Skills Conference was held June 24 to 28 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Nearly 6,000 outstanding career and technical education students – all state contest winners – competed in 98 different trade, technical and leadership fields. They worked against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations like electronics, computer-aided drafting, medical assisting and culinary arts.

“I’d never been challenged quite like this before,” Bernard said about the competition.

On the first day of the event, Bernard, 18, had to tackle two electronics certification exams. Questions ranged from calculating the impedance of a circuit to professionally interacting with customers. Bernard easily passed both with scores of 90 and 87.

On the second day, Bernard and his nearly 40 competitors were each given a smart power supply (NIDA 130E) and three circuit cards containing electronic faults. They had to diagnose problems ranging from shorted-out resistors to broken Integrated Circuits.

But about 30 minutes before he was to begin, Bernard realized he had forgotten the necessary circuit diagrams in his hotel room. His advisor, metal fabrication instructor Stephen Palmer raced back to the hotel, grabbed the handouts and raced back, arriving about 20 minutes into the competition.

“For the first 20 minutes I was sitting there pretending I knew what was going on,” Bernard said.

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