CNM Student Makes Every Minute Count During National SkillsUSA Competition
Cory Downing bending conduit on the competition floor at the SkillsUSA National Skills and Leadership Conference

CNM Student Makes Every Minute Count During National SkillsUSA Competition

Cory Downing worked all the way to the buzzer during the first part of the Electrical Construction Wiring competition and still has another full day of work ahead of him
June 22, 2023

A three-hour competition sounds long to most people. But for CNM Electrical Trades student Cory Downing, three hours seemed to pass in an instant.

That’s because Cory was fully concentrated while competing in the first round of the Electrical Construction Wiring competition that took place Wednesday morning at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. In this round, Cory and his fellow competitors had to complete a conduit bending test that showcased their ability to manipulate electrical conduit pipes to avoid obstacles. 

“I was still on the floor when they called time,” Cory says. “I’m not as comfortable with conduit bending as I am with other aspects of the trade, so I felt pretty stressed toward the end. But I kept telling myself to just work the way I wanted to and go from there. I feel confident in the work I did today, and I’m excited for the Panel and Branch Circuitry portion of the competition tomorrow.” Portrait of Cory Downing

During Thursday’s Panel and Branch Circuitry test, Cory will spend eight hours installing electrical boxes, pulling wires, and installing switches and lights. By the end of that eight hours he should be able to switch his lights on and off without a hitch. 

In his pockets of free time outside of competition Cory has been able to walk the conference floor, which covers the equivalent of 31 football fields, meet other competitors, learn about their trades programs, and network with industry professionals. 

“It’s been really neat to meet people from different states and learn about their programs,” he says. “Seeing so many high school competitors is so exciting, too. It’s great knowing that SkillsUSA is preparing young people to enter the workforce.”

No matter the outcome of his overall competition, Cory says he already feels accomplished for making it to the national level and meeting other talented tradespeople. 

“Competing at the national level is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” he says. “It’s hard to not be overwhelmed by the amount of competitors and the quality of work that everyone brings to the table. Coming to Atlanta has shown me that all of the work I’ve put into learning my trade has paid off, and if I end up winning it will be icing on the cake.”