Northwest Alabama tech students compete in trade skills competition

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MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. — For the second year in a row, dozens of high school students competed in different skill sets in the Shoals Friday.

The students were representing tech schools in the SkillsUSA district competition.

Not many people know how to cut a 2-inch hole into a sheet of metal. Nor can they properly diagnose what’s wrong in their car’s electrical harness.

Landon Porter, West Limestone High School

“You get to show off what you learned in tech school. It’s just a cool deal,” explained West Limestone High School student Landon Porter.

Porter finished third in last year’s automotive competition. He returned to the SkillsUSA district finals, vying for the top spot. Trouble shooting automotive issues is his preferred ‘sport.’

“It’s something you really wouldn’t think of,” Porter said. “I tell people I have competition on Friday or whatever, and they are kind of curious what it is. It’s not your normal activity I guess.”

But these students are already training for a future career. Instructors say learning a trade like welding or automotive repair gets them ahead of the curve. And they learn much more than on-the-job skills.

“Like the job interviews, how you handle personal skills,” Porter said.

If you don’t have personal skills, you may not get the chance to show off your trade skills.

Winners from the SkillsUSA district competition get the chance to travel to Birmingham in April for the state finals.

In all, 250 high school students participated in Friday’s district competition.