Hannah Leesley, a 16-year-old Greater Fort Erie Secondary School student, takes part in the DSBN Technological Skill Challenge on Wednesday at the Niagara College Welland Campus. - Laura Barton , The Welland Tribune
District School Board of Niagara students had a chance to test their skills on Wednesday during the DBSN Technological Skills Challenge held at Niagara College.
Roy Smith, a support teacher for technology with DSBN, said this is the 20th year the challenge has been held. It started with a dozen students and one task, but has grown, this year including 350 students and 26 challenges.
"It's just fantastic for students. They really get the ability to hone their skills," he said of the competition.
Many students participate in the school board's specialist high skills major program already, but there were students of all sorts taking part in the challenge.
The majority of the challenges took place on Wednesday at both Niagara College campuses, but there were challenges happening at other locations, too. A couple of the challenges will be taking place next week in downtown St. Catharines.
The challenges are in fields that include welding, precision machining, automotive, hairstyling, baking and other culinary skills, and, new this year, computer coding.
Smith called it a broad spectrum of challenges that contribute to students' leadership qualities and problem solving, while giving them an idea of what it's like working in those fields.
He said DSBN has partnered with Niagara College for the challenge for the past three years. One of the reasons is because of the ongoing partnership between DSBN and the post-secondary institution, but the industry-standard equipment available at the college campuses is also a great asset.
Hannah Lessley, 16, was one of the many students taking part in the challenge Wednesday.
The Greater Fort Erie Secondary School student was in the automotive lab, where she was working to figure out how to fix faults that were preventing a car engine from starting. Despite her confusion and lack of experience, she said she was having fun trying to solve the puzzle. Her love of cars is one of the things that drives her.
She said she was a bit intimidated being the only female competing in this male-dominated field.
She was pretty sure the men in the room were watching her because "it's not a girl's job," but she wasn't about to let it stop her.
It was her first year competing and she said she'd love to do it again next year.
Students who win gold at the DSBN level will go on to the Ontario Technological Skills Competition in Toronto in May. Any gold winners from the provincial round will compete in June at the national level in Edmonton, Alta., at the Skills Canada National Competition.
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