CDG project designer wins silver at SkillsUSA national competition

More than 15,000 students, teachers, and business partners attended the SkillsUSA 55th Annual National Leadership and Skills Conference for a week of learning and leadership events held in Louisville, Ky. in June.

During the conference, CDG Project Designer Zack Cowley and his teammates, James Clark and Daniel Anderson, competed among 6,300 state contest winners in the SkillsUSA Championships. The three Gadsden State Community College students advanced to the national competition after winning gold at the Alabama state competition in April.

The best career and technical students in the nation engaged in 103 various trade, technical and leadership field competitions. These contests are run with the assistance of attending industries, trade associations, and labor organizations. Test competencies are set by the according industries.

At the championships, Cowley and his teammates won silver in the Automated Manufacturing Technology competition. The contest evaluates teams for employment in integrated manufacturing technology fields of computer aided drafting/design (CAD), computer aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer numerical controlled (CNC) machining.

During the 6 ½-hour-long competition, Cowley served as the CAD operator for his team, constructing the geometry portion and the 2D blueprint for the project. Clark, the CAM operator, generated the tool path, and Anderson, the CNC operator, set up the machines.

Their process included drafting a blueprint, configuring the dimensions, completing the general design, transferring the design for the program writing, and constructing the product out of fiber board.

The team was able to earn second place despite having technical setbacks.

“We did run into some challenges with our computers, but the competition was a real-life scenario,” Cowley said. “In real life, you sometimes run into problems. We had to adapt to work through the issues and finish the project in time.”

Cowley, Clark and Anderson plan to participate in the state competition again next year with the hope of moving forward to compete at the 2020 SkillsUSA Championships.

Cowley is currently pursuing associate degrees in civil engineering technology and mechanical design technology at Gadsden State Community College.