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Four Sheridan students win medals at Skills Ontario Competition

May 15, 2024
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Four Sheridan students won medals at last week's Skills Ontario Competition, an annual event that showcases the province's top skilled trades and technologies students.

Lucas Blackwood (Welding and Fabrication Technician) and Hardeep Bansal (Industrial Mechanics Millwright) claimed silver medals at the event, while Mechanical Technician - CNC & Precision Machining students Sirjan Singh and Jacob Christmas each collected bronze.

Held May 6-8 at the Toronto Congress Centre, this year's Skills Ontario Competition featured approximately 2,000 postsecondary students competing in 68 categories. Sheridan's 15 entrants into Skills Ontario were determined at the college's Skills Sheridan competition earlier this year.

"Earning a medal at Skills Ontario is a significant accomplishment for a skilled trades and technologies student, and something that identifies the remarkable skill they bring to their profession and careers," said Dr. Elizabeth Fabbroni, Dean of Sheridan's Faculty of Applied Science and Technology. "We are immensely proud of all of our Skills Ontario participants and the faculty and staff who support them."

In addition to its 15 competitors, Sheridan was also represented at Skills Ontario by an interactive booth that included demonstrations and exhibits of welding, robotics, advanced manufacturing, ethical hacking, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, automation, architecture, urban design, electrical trades and more.

"Skills Ontario is a tremendous showcase of young minds representing the knowledge they gained from their institutions in the hopes to move on to nationals and possibly the world stage," said Eric Wojcik, FAST's Senior Manager of Faculty Administrative Operations. "The future of tomorrow fills the building as you engage with individuals of all ages through demonstration and knowledge sharing."

Following are more details about each of Sheridan's four Skills Ontario medalists:

Lucas Blackwood

Welding student Lucas Blackwood stands with his mentor Carly Myers while wearing his Skills Ontario silver medalAs a first-year student, Blackwood aspired to continue developing his skills and make new friends at the provincial competition. He did much more than that, finishing second out of 30 competitors in the welding division.

Although Blackwood may have been surprised by his success at provincials, his mentor wasn't. "Lucas is hard-working, dedicated and has a natural gift for welding," said skilled trades professor Carly Myers (pictured with Blackwood.) "He also put in countless hours of studying drawings, grinding, fitting and welding to prepare for the competition."

Blackwood, who "caught the welding bug" in Grade 11 when he was first exposed to the trade through the Dual Credit program, shared his success with his supporters. "I thank my welding professor Paul Gobbi for helping me register for the competition and encouraging me to compete," he said. "I'm also thankful to Carly for spending hours of her own time helping me prepare. She saw the spark in my eye, encouraging and pushing me each step of the way, and I could not have done it without her."

Hardeep Bansal

Sheridan student Hardeep Bansal poses for a photo between his mother and fatherBansal went into the Skills Ontario competition feeling prepared to be tested in mechanical component alignment, stainless steel tube bending, pneumatics, centrifugal pump disassembly and inspection, drilling and tapping. However, attempting to complete those tasks while under the surveillance of judges and spectators was another challenge altogether.

After experiencing some early jitters during the first task of the competition, Bansal leaned on Magna School for the Skilled Trades interim Associate Dean Craig Brazil's advice to regain confidence by focusing on what he could improve upon for the second task. Bansal did exactly that in the next challenge, becoming the only competitor to get a pneumatic circuit working. "The adrenaline rush that I experienced after finishing that task was phenomenal," Bansal said.

That feeling was trumped just two days later when Bansal received a silver medal with his parents (pictured with Bansal, above) and sister in the crowd. "The COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from being able to attend my convocation," said Bansal, "but the Skills Ontario medal ceremony made up for that with a hundred times more joy."

Sirjan Singh

Sheridan student Sirjan Singh stands with his precision machining bronze medal around his neckSingh's bronze-medal performance at Skills Ontario capped an enjoyable three-year time at Sheridan, as he embarks on his new career with automotive technology supplier and long-time Sheridan supporter, Magna.

"Everything about this trade has been excellent. I made great friends and got to know the best teachers I've met so far," says Singh, who has tutored peers in trade calculations, precision machining and CNC machining over the past 18 months.

"I would like to thank all of my professors, friends and family for believing in me and supporting me to push past every difficulty I had throughout the program. All this has enabled me to get a job at Magna, my dream company."

Jacob Christmas

Sheridan student Jacob Christmas stands with a bronze medal around his neckNerves weren't an issue at Skills Ontario for Christmas, who competed in the FIRST Championships world competition several years ago as a member of Mississauga's Rick Hansen high school robotics team.

"Skills Ontario was pretty fun. It's nice to be able to say I finished third in the province," the second-year student said of his bronze-medal showing in CNC machining. "I also have to thank my professor Tyler O'Rourke for teaching me on the side how to program a CNC lathe, since that isn't taught in the diploma program."

Christmas, who helped mentor Rick Hansen to another FIRST Championships appearance this year, first began manual machining at the age of 15. "I chose to study machining over welding because I like the refinement of machining," said Christmas, who hopes to eventually work on jet engines.

Sheridan students have a long history of success at Skills Ontario and other skilled trades competitions. In 2022, Internet Communications Technology student Akshit Vineet won national gold in Cloud Computing at the Skills Canada championships in Vancouver. Later that year, Sheridan hosted the Industrial Mechanics event of the 2022 WorldSkills Competition Special Edition, marking just the third time that a discipline in WorldSkills was contested on Canadian soil.

Learn more about studying in the skilled trades at Sheridan.

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