In a little under two hours, and with 10 minutes to spare, Bernard managed to diagnose 85 percent of the problems that were inserted into the circuit. Bernard said it was the highest score of the competition.
“I’ve always been really good at troubleshooting circuits,” he said.
“We also had to build a circuit by soldering components onto a printed circuit board correctly, neatly and in a given time limit,” he said. “I finished the final step just after the time limit, but I feel I did well otherwise.”
When the names of the winners were announced, Bernard jumped out of his seat.
“Everyone was giving me high-fives,” he said. “I was really happy.”
Bernard lugged his 25-pound oscilloscope around with him during the trip. He carried it on the plane, through airport check points, to the hotel, and the competition, where he used it to test circuits he was troubleshooting.
“Some kids brought digital oscilloscopes, which only weigh a few pounds and are about one-fifth the size of mine,” he said.
For winning a gold medal, Bernard, who plans to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this fall, received a $1,500 scholarship, about $650 worth of Milwaukee brand of portable power tools, and a remote control helicopter. He’s also waiting to receive a Caterpillar brand electronics tool kit and possibly an oscilloscope. He said Whittier will receive a NIDA power supply for use in the classroom.
The road to the nationals began in April when students from Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School won 15 medals, eight of them gold, at the statewide SkillsUSA competition held in Marlboro. The total medal count for Whittier’s team set a school record. Typically, only gold medal winners are eligible to compete at the national level.
The school paid for the trip, flights and lodging for eight students, and two vocational teachers and one parent (who is also a staff member) served as chaperones.