LAS VEGAS - Jacob Wozniak, a graduate of Cattaraugus-Allegheny BOCES in Ellicottville, New York, 2013 won the WorldSkills Cabinetmaking Qualifying Trial at AWFS®Fair and will represent the United States at the 2015 WorldSkills Competition in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Wozniak graduated from the Ellicottville area technical education center in 2012 and promptly won Gold in High School cabinetmaking at the 2012 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, MO. Since graduation, Wozniak has been working at a cabinet shop and also making cabinets for his own customers. He spends all of his free time in his shop and says woodworking is his passion.
Wozniak competed against two other highly skilled cabinetmakers for three days during the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas. Caleb Floyd was the 2012 High School Silver Medalist at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. He graduated from Warner Robins High School in Kathleen, Georgia in 2012 and has been working in automotive refinishing with his father, and running his own lawn business with hopes of finding a job at a local cabinet shop. Brett Sidesinger received a top score at the 2013 SkillsUSA National Conference, after graduating from Washburn Institute of Technology in Topeka, Kansas with a certificate in Cabinetmaking and Millwork Technology. He is currently finishing his AA degree and working in a cabinet shop.
Two experienced industry professionals served as judges for the Qualifying Trial: Saul Martin from Architectural Woodworking Company, Los Angeles, and Charles Wilson from Riverwoods Mill, St. George, Utah. The judges carefully scored each of the three students' processes and skills throughout the AWFS Fair.
A third member of the event's management team was SkillsUSA Technical Expert Rob Tobias, instructor at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster, Penn. Rob served as Cabinetmaking Technical Expert at WorldSkills 2009 in Calgary, 2011 in London and 2013 in Leipzig and is intimately familiar with the details, policies and requirements that Wozniak will now need to know in order to do well at WorldSkills.
"All three of these contestants were qualified, it was a strong competition and we are proud to be able to show the industry that students like these three young men are the woodworkers of the future," said Tobias.
Together, Tobias, Martin and Wilson created the project plans, tool list and material list for the Qualifying Trial and contributed significant quantities of time and supplies to its success.
Fifteen AWFS Fair exhibitors chose to support this event as sponsors by providing tools, machinery, supplies and materials for the students to use: 3-D Fastener Plus, Amana Tool Corporation, Bessey Tools North America, Colonial Saw Company, Inc., Dixon Enterprises, Inc., FRAMA-Tech, General International MFG CO LTD, GREX Power Tools, Joos USA, Inc., Kreg Tool Company, Lee Valley and Veritas Tools, Rockler Woodworking & Hardware, Royal Plywood, Woodcraft and Wurth Louis and Company.
"The industry support is what makes this event and everything that SkillsUSA does possible," says Eric Gearhart, SkillsUSA National Director of Research and Foundation Relations. "Thank you sponsors: what you are doing is helping to ensure the future of the woodworking industry!"
Thanks to the generosity of the sponsors, the students received handsome prize packages: Wozniak went home with a Kreg router with table, a Festool Power Miter Box and other Festool items and his school received a General International Mortiser. Other prizes for Wozniak, Floyd and Sidesinger included Lee Valley gift certificates, Bosch sanders and drills, a GREX pin nailer and more.
Thanks to Woodcraft, Tommy MacDonald, host of the Emmy nominated PBS woodworking show Rough Cuts with Tommy Mac hosted the awards ceremony and announced the winner. "Woodworking is close to my heart," said MacDonald, "I'm proud of these students and I hope that Jacob will take me up on my offer to come to my shop and train with me so that the U.S. will be a strong competitor in WorldSkills Cabinetmaking!"
Wozniak still has a long way to go on his journey to WorldSkills 2015. In order to get to this level of competition, he has already proven his skills at local, state and national competitions, but two years of practice lie ahead before the possibility of taking home a medal in Brazil. SkillsUSA Technical Expert Rob Tobias has invited Wozniak to his shop for some invaluable training time. Next year, Wozniak may have the opportunity to compete at the SkillsAmericas competition in South America, which will provide some valuable experience with working under pressure with limited time under the scrutiny of the public -- as is the environment at WorldSkills.
It costs approximately $35,000 to send each competitor to WorldSkills and SkillsUSA is dependent on industry to support the students. Besides cash sponsorship opportunities, industry can also help by providing tool donations. Wozniak will need a fully stocked tool kit to take with him in order to be on the same level as his competitors from other countries.
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