Regional Career Technical Center students win big at regional competition
Photo courtesy of Bill Burnette
Students from the Ypsilanti-based Regional Career Technical Center have taken five out of the six spots they competed for in their regional vocational skills competition, and Director Bill Burnette has the pink hair to show for it.
Burnette, who also teaches the center’s auto collision repair program, bet his students they could dye his hair any color they chose if they took five out of the six state-qualifying positions during the recent SkillsUSA Michigan competition held at Washtenaw Community College.
“I thought they’d win three or four and be competitive, but when they won five spots it was tremendous,” he said.
The national competition allows students from vocational schools across the country to compete against each other in a range of categories, from culinary arts to masonry to early childhood education. Burnette’s eight students competed in two categories, collision repair technology and automotive refinishing technology, with four students competing individually in each category. Seventeen students from three schools competed in total at the competition with the first, second and third place winners continuing on to the state competition in April.
Photo courtesy of Bill Burnette
Dominating both of their competitions, RCTC took every place for the collision repair technology competition and two out of the three spots for the automotive refinishing technology competition. Sean Meixner, Ryan Romanini and Michael Bustemante took first, second and third place, respectively, in the collision repair category. Trevor Farmer and Kayla Wiedbusch took first and third, respectively, in the automotive refinishing category.
“I didn’t expect to win and it just kind of happened,” Meixner, a 16-year-old junior for Ypsilanti said.
Farmer, also a 16-year-old junior for Ypsilanti, said he too was surprised at his win.
“When they called my name, I was the fifth person (to win),” he said “That was awesome.”
Farmer said he and his teammates spent months getting ready for the competition. “(We were) just going over, spraying paint and just doing everything we can just to prepare,” he said. “Mr. Burnette is a good teacher. He did a lot to prepare us to go a long way.”
In collision repair technology, students are tested on their skills in metal straightening, welding, plastic repair and structural analysis. The automotive refinishing technology category tests students on their skills in surface preparation, spray gun operating, paint mixing, matching and applying, solving paint application problems, determining finish defects, causes and cures and utilizing safety precautions. Both categories test students on business skills, including writing an estimate.
Now, students are preparing for the statewide competition to be held from April 19-21 in Grand Rapids. First place winners there then compete on a national level.
In his 20 years attending the competition, Burnette said the RCTC has won 13 medals, including two state title-winning classes that finished seventh and 21st nationally.
As he waits for his hair to change back, Burnette said he’s excited for the next competition and hopeful for another state win. In the meantime, he has his hair to remind him of his students’ success.
“It’s going to be pink for about a week,” he said. “They used as permanent a dye as they could get, and it’s not fading as fast as I thought it would. It’s pretty darn pink.”