Hundreds of Skilled Trades Students to Compete in Statewide Competition on CNM’s Main Campus This Friday

The students are part of the 2023 New Mexico SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Competition, which is designed to promote career and technical education at middle, high school, and college/postsecondary levels
April 11, 2023

This Friday, CNM’s Main Campus will be buzzing with nearly 800 high school and college students from all over New Mexico who will be competing in the 2023 New Mexico SkillsUSA State Leadership and Skills Conference. 

The conference showcases the state's best career and technical education students and offers 54 different competitions that range from welding and construction to baking and photography. Participants chosen for the state competition have already won their school-wide competitions and are traveling to CNM from all corners of the state to compete against the clock and each other. This year’s competition will feature more than double the number of students who competed last year. 

“Our goal is to support SkillsUSA members not only with their career aspirations, but success at home, in school, and in the workplace.” says Natalie Donnelly, Interim State Director of SkillsUSA New Mexico. “Whether it’s welding, culinary arts or video news production, we work directly with students and educators to support them in developing technical skills grounded in academics.”

SkillsUSA New Mexico is a statewide organization that has over 50 chapters throughout the state that work together to promote partnerships between Career and Technical Education students, educators, and industry professionals to ensure that America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA does the same on a national level and works with almost 400,000 students annually. 

The New Mexico students participating in this year’s event come from 40 different schools including CNM. The opening ceremony takes place on April 13, competitions will be held at CNM on April 14, principally at Ted Chavez Hall, and there will be an awards presentation and closing ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on April 15.

Gold, silver, and bronze winners will be named for every category and gold medal winners have the opportunity to represent New Mexico and compete in the SkillsUSA National Leadership & Skills Conference, which takes place this June in Atlanta, Georgia. That event showcases the best career and technical education students nationally at an event space in Atlanta that spans 41 acres, or the equivalent of 31 football fields. 

Last year nearly 5,200 career and technical education students competed hands-on in 108 different trade, technical and leadership career competitions. Several CNM students placed in their national competitions, including Zane Horton, Christopher Rodriguez, and Walter Armijo, who made up CNM’s gold-medal-winning Welding Fabrication team

Donnelly says she and SkillsUSA New Mexico are excited about the growth the New Mexico conference and its career competitions have seen this year and credits expanded recruitment efforts at all levels as well as increased funding from a wide variety of local and national sponsors including CNM, Lowe’s, Jaynes Corporation, Miller Electric, and many more. 

“The State Conference is the year’s culminating experience for our members. It’s an opportunity for students to showcase their skills and interact with New Mexico business and industry partners,” Donnelly says. “We are immensely grateful to our partners from business and industry for coordinating career competitions, to CNM for hosting the event, and to the schools’ educators and administrators who believe in our students, not just as part of this year’s competitions, but in their bright futures.”