19th Annual Skills Canada National Competition

The 19th annual Skills Canada National Competition is here at BC Place in Vancouver right now, and I'm thrilled to be here. If you've never had the opportunity to check out one of these events, then you're absolutely missing out. Students and apprentices from all across Canada come together to compete in over 40 different skilled trades and technology contests.

Everything was kicked off officially on June 5th with the opening ceremonies over at the PNE Forum, where teams from every province and territory paraded in with their flags, cheering wildly. There are even some teams from abroad that are here to practice for the upcoming WorldSkills competition in Germany. We were also lucky to be joined by special visitors Mag RuffmanMike Holmes, and Mike Holmes Jr., who have stuck around to experience the entire competition.

The competitors were busy at work yesterday and today at BC Place, with all of the excitement and intensity of the Olympics. One of the neatest things about the event is the ability to walk around and visit the different contest areas. You can check out the projects that everyone is working on, and talk with industry experts. This is my seventh year attending, and I continue to be amazed at how much I learn in such a short period of time.
A view of the floor. The Jumbotron was showing live images from the various contests around the stadium. As you can see, there was a lot going on.

From left to right: Stacy DuBois, David Boivin, and Caitlin Mayo - Team Canada 2009 Alumni at the Skills Canada National Competition in Vancouver, BC.
Offset printing is quite the art. Competitors in this area were tasked with mixing inks to produce specific Pantone colours, and operating a mechanical printer. I was interested to find out that the life expectancy of these sorts of printers is so much longer than the kinds of printers you find in a regular office. The ink used can be separated from the paper afterwards as well, meaning that the paper can be recycled. Apparently that's not possible with toner.
Hunter Engineering Company's alignment system demo - a company representative was explaining to me how their software works with information gathered from devices attached to each wheel and high resolution cameras. Matched against the specific model of the car from an extensive database, technicians can align the wheels with a very intuitive computer interface.
The robotics contest area is a treat for spectators. A crowd gathers to watch as teams compete head-to-head. Here you can see a robot moving a pallet into place, knocking out one of their opponents' pallets.
Over at the automotive service contest area, I learned that the cars you typically see on the road today are absolutely full of little computers. Computing truly is ubiquitous today, isn't it? There are so many different industries that find a use for it. What an exciting field to be in.
The official results will be announced tomorrow during the closing ceremonies. Click here to check out the live stream of the event happening Saturday June 8th at 1:00 p.m. PT. For more information on Skills/Comp├ętences Canada and the awesome stuff they're doing, check out their site here.
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