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Middlesex student shines in trades competition

Two local students, Brandon Eanes of Middlesex County and Roger Eveland of West Point, who have been studying marine trades technology at Rappahannock Community College through dual enrollment agreements with their high schools, made an excellent showing in the 45th Annual National SkillsUSA Competition in Kansas City, June 21-27.

SkillsUSA is a nonprofit organization consisting of teachers, industry representatives, and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations.

Among approximately 15,000 participants from all over the country, Eanes took 9th place in the first-year marine trades competition, and Eveland took 8th place in second-year marine trades. They competed against not only students of their own age, but also older individuals who had qualified for the competition through their attendance at various technical schools.

“They learned a lot and had a good time,” said RCC instructor Mark Drexler of York River Marine. “It opened their eyes about the size of the industry, and generated a great deal of enthusiasm in them.”

While Eanes will return to Drexler’s class in the fall, Eveland has now graduated. He has a summer job with Drexler, but in Fall 2009 he will enter the marine trades program at WyoTech in Daytona Beach, Fla., attending 40 hours of classes per week for 9 months.

“The marine trades program definitely put me on my feet toward a career,” says Eveland.

RCC’s two-year Marine Services Technology program is the first of its kind in Virginia, and leads to an RCC career studies certificate. It teaches the fundamentals of boat operation, boat maintenance (including navigation, safety, engine mechanics, and electrical and air-conditioning systems), and marina operations through a combination of hands-on practice and classroom work.

It has been offered as a dual-enrollment option for high school students since Fall 2005; however, in Fall 2009 it will become available for the first time to the general public. High school juniors and seniors will now be joined by adults of all ages who are looking to start a new career path or upgrade skills they already possess.

These programs also assist local businesses—more than 15 area boatyards and marinas have sponsored employees to take the advanced ABYC courses, and have expressed great satisfaction with the training. Keith Ruse of Deltaville Boatyard said that continuous training is one way to ensure that the quality of the work remains at the highest level. “It’s great that the RCC classes are in the evening,” he said. “This reduces the time loss at the boatyard.”

More than a dozen Deltaville Boatyard employees have gone through the ABYC curriculum at RCC.

For more information about the marine trades programs at RCC, please call the Workforce Development Center at 758-6750 (Glenns) or 333-6828 (Warsaw).

posted 07.29.2009

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