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Kirkwood Students Earn Top SkillsUSA Honors

Christopher Funk and John Fetty

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (June 30, 2021)–Two Kirkwood Community College students earned top awards at the 2021 SkillsUSA Championships, a national event held in late June to test the skills of career and technical students from across the nation. The two students joined thousands of competitors at the event and earned the distinction of being among the best in their fields.

Christopher Funk, a 2021 graduate of the Kirkwood Automotive Technology program, won gold in the Automotive Service Technology category. In the competition, contestants demonstrated their ability to perform jobs and skills based on a task list outlined by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). Workstations consisted of on-vehicle, simulations, bench and component testing as well as a written test. Participants were judged on technical competency, accuracy, quality, safety, and ability to follow directions. The gold award marked the first time that a student from the Kirkwood Automotive Technology program placed first at nationals.

Funk credits his education and training for his recent achievements.

“A major catalyst for my success has been the instruction that I have received at Kirkwood through the Automotive Technology program,” said Funk. “I now hold my ASE Master certification and have won the Skills USA national championships in the Automotive Service Technology division. I don’t believe I ever imagined this when I decided to start learning the basics of automotive repair at the Kirkwood Auto Tech Academy in Monticello. I am grateful to all the instructors and staff who have helped make my time at Kirkwood successful.”

In addition, Kirkwood student John Fetty competed in the Carpentry category and placed silver. In that competition, contestants were asked to perform various tasks such as framing walls using wood and/or steel studs, cutting and installing rafters and gable end overhangs, fascia board and soffit installation, and installing sheathing and/or exterior siding and trim. Demonstration of knowledge of stair construction was also required. Contestants were judged on accuracy, ability to read and interpret blueprints, workmanship, safety, and the proper use of tools and materials.

After receiving his degree in Construction Management from Kirkwood, Fetty plans to gain journey-level carpentry skills by working as a production framer. His long-term plans include starting his own framing company in his hometown of Pella.

To Kirkwood Dean of Industrial Technologies Emily Logan, the impressive showing at the SkillsUSA Championships is a testament to the high-quality instruction at the college.

“It’s really thrilling to see our students succeed at such a high level,” said Logan. “This not only proves how talented they are, but it also demonstrates what an incredible job our faculty are doing as well. As educators, the greatest reward we can ever receive is to see our students grow as learners and reach new heights academically. I can’t wait to see the great things that Christopher and John will accomplish in their careers.”