WoodLINKS, USA and Product Design & Development students at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) recently received prizes for competing in the WoodLINKS, USA/International Woodworkers Association (IWF) competition was held last summer in Atlanta, Georgia. For their acceptance into the national juried competition, and for placing fourth in the nation, Halifax County High School junior Doug Stillwell, and recent high school graduates Patrick Prophet and Kenton Beard have received prizes from several industry sponsors. Each student received a Fastcap tool bag fully stocked with hand tools and Fastcap adhesives, screwcaps, and assorted woodworking accessories. The tool bag and tools are worth hundreds of dollars, and a valued asset for anyone in the woodworking field.

The WoodLINKS, USA/Product Design & Development program at the SVHEC also received prizes because students from the program were accepted into the competition. The program has received a Kreg Tools Pockethole Jig & Clamp Master System that will give students the ability to creatively incorporate pocket screws into their designs. The program also received a Graco Airspray Gravity Gun and Valspar finishes and stains.

The WoodLINKS, USA/IWF national competition focused on the design and marketing of Ready to Assemble (RTA) wooden products. The students competed with a contemporary demilune table made of natural Oak and featuring curved, tapered legs with a customizable veneer top. Because this was a Ready to Assemble competition, the table had to travel in pieces and be ready to assemble with limited time and instructions. To give themselves an edge, students used a unique system of magnets that allowed the table to snap together quickly without the use of extra tools, hardware, or fasteners. The innovation in design and engineering (key elements of the WoodLINKS/Product Design & Development program) allowed the students to place fourth in the nation.

The experience of travelling to Atlanta to take part in one of the woodworking industry’s largest exhibitions was a highlight for the students. Kenton Beard stated, “It was awesome being in Atlanta, and being able to see there’s so much going on in woodworking. There’s a lot more to do in the field than just straight woodworking.” WoodLINKS/Product Design & Development instructor Clint Johnson agreed, “Students got to see exactly how vast the woodworking industry is. The most important part for the students being able to go to the competition is exposure to the various branches woodworking touches—from machinist and computer programmers to tool making and lumber suppliers.”

Donations from WoodLINKS, USA, South Boston’s BHK of America, and the Halifax Industrial Development Authority allowed the students to travel to and stay in Atlanta free of charge.

Not resting on their early successes, dual enrollment WoodLINKS and adult Product Design & Development students are already prototyping original designs to be entered in the 2011 American Wood Finishings and Suppliers (AWFS) student competition. Halifax County WoodLINKS students took home the first place prize the last time they entered the AWFS competition. “We’re always looking forward to the next opportunity to give students and the program exposure on the national level. We want to create awareness of who we are and what we’re doing to gather student interest and to let people all over the nation know this caliber of work is coming out of this program,” Johnson said.

The dual enrollment WoodLINKS program is open to sophomore, junior, and senior high school students. Community college courses in Product Design & Development, offered in partnership with Danville Community College, are also offered at the SVHEC. Registration is now open for Product Design & Development I & II and Team Concepts & Problem Solving for adult students who want to enroll in the Product Design & Development program this spring.


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