Auto tech faculty train students for WorldSkills competition

  Thursday, July 9, 2015 2:00 AM

Pittsburg, KS

Auto tech faculty train students for WorldSkills competition

As an instructor in Pittsburg State’s College of Technology, Mike Elder is used to training students to succeed in the automotive technology industry. His most recent challenge, however, has taken on an international flavor.

Elder and other members of Pitt State’s automotive technology faculty are preparing two students this week to compete in the 43rd WorldSkills Competition, which takes place in mid-August in Sao Paulo, Brazil. More than 1,200 students from more than 60 countries are expected to participate in the global competition.

“It’s a huge competition,” said Elder, who serves as a WorldSkills Automotive Technology Expert in charge of training Team USA’s automotive competitor. “There are students there from all around the world who really know their stuff. It’s a wonderful challenge to witness and be a part of.”

Two of Team USA’s competitors were on Pitt State’s campus this month for training at the Kansas Technology Center. Michael Mullen, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., will compete automotive service technology category at WorldSkills. Dustin Martsolf, of Atchison, will compete in the heavy vehicle maintenance category.

Mullen, a junior at California Polytechnic State University, said he’s grateful for the opportunity to train at Pittsburg State.

“The facility here is unique in that there aren’t many college campuses that could offer what this place offers,” he said. “It’s a full automotive lab, which makes preparing for the competition more intensive than it could be other places.”

Mullen spent much of his time at Pitt State training on a Ford Fusion donated by Columbus-based dealership Mike Carpino Ford. He also visited Fort Scott dealership Shepherd Team Auto Plaza to examine a Toyota Corolla. 

“To have that type of support from industry is incredible,” said Scott Norman, associate professor of automotive technology and USA WorldSkills Technical Delegate. “Being able to reach out to our industry partners to get the equipment we need to prepare these students for competition is incredibly beneficial for all of us.”

Elder said the local and regional partners make it possible to train the students at the KTC.

“We prefer to train the students here because we have the facilities and tools we need at our disposal,” he said. “For the things we don’t have, it’s nice to be able to reach out to our industry partners and have them help fill some gaps.”

This year marks the first time in WorldSkills history that the competitions will be held in South America. Elder and Norman will travel to Brazil with Team USA to help organize and conduct the event. 

"We're excited to be down there and be part of this," Norman said. "The president of Brazil is expected to come watch. That's how big this is. It's very exciting to represent Pittsburg State on a global stage."

For more information about the competition, visit

For more information about the Pittsburg State automotive technology program, visit



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