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Okanagan College trio golden in Skills competition
Okanagan College Media Release


For Okanagan College students and apprentices Lukas Pfob, Connor McLaren and Bradley Vanlerberg, their efforts at the provincial Skills Canada competition proved golden.

The trio won gold medals at the competition that was held in Abbotsford on April 18, part of the OC contingent of 14 students who brought home a total of eight medals from the event. The competition draws post-secondary and secondary school students and apprentices from throughout B.C. to test their skills against a series of challenges in 47 different disciplines.

For McLaren, it was his training as an Automotive Service Technician that led him to dominate in the Automotive Service category. Vernon’s Vanlerberg, in the second term of an Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (Maintenance) program, captured top spot in the Aerospace Technology competition, only to be followed by his classmate (also from Vernon), Levi Nicholas, who won the silver medal in the same competition.

Pfob won his gold medal in the Carpentry competition. It’s his second gold medal and his fourth medal overall competing in Skills Canada BC competitions. He won a gold medal last year and competed in the national competition.

“Okanagan College and the carpentry instructors have been fantastic,” says Pfob. “They’ve supported me and gone beyond showing me just the basics of carpentry.”

The attention to detail that’s been drilled into him apparently paid off. Pfob says the competition between he and the silver medal winner as they built small playhouses in 5.5 hours of competition was close. “Apparently, it was the clean cuts and joints, and the little details on my project that made the difference. Mine was more sellable in the final analysis.”

For 18-year-old Vanlerberg, he thinks it was an exam – on Canadian aviation regulations – that earned him the gold medal in the Aerospace Technology category. That exam came after he and the other contestants had to do an inspection on an engine, remove a fuel pump, and do all the accompanying paperwork.

McLaren was surprised to find out he had captured gold. He thought he’d stumbled on a couple of the six stations he had to complete during the automotive service competition. He thinks it was being able to do some basic things well that made the difference and he credits instructors for their support and the assistance they provided in anticipation of the competition. “They were great.”

“The accomplishments of these students is noteworthy,” says Okanagan College Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores. “They work with their instructors over long hours to prepare for these competitions. It’s a commitment on behalf of the instructors, but it all comes down to the students’ skill and abilities.”

“For Lukas, Connor and Bradley, it means they will be headed to the national competition in Edmonton in June. We’ll be cheering them on.”

“I’m pretty nervous about the nationals because there’s lots I have to do,” says Vanlerberg. He estimates he’ll be putting in dozens of hours practicing and reviewing material with instructor Hal Hobenshield between now and early June.

Dianne Holm was an eager observer of as much as she could take in during the Abbotsford competition. She’s the Regional Co-ordinator for Skills Canada and an employee in Okanagan College’s Trades department. She helps organize and run one of the largest events held annually at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus – the regional Skills Canada BC Trades and Technology Regional Competitions and Discovery Day.

This past year, nearly 770 students (more than 110 of them competitors) from the K-12 system between Revelstoke and Osoyoos took part in the day-long event in March. “It’s great bringing the youth to our campus. By hosting the competitions we provide them a platform to showcase their skills, build up their confidence, and test their abilities, all while striving for gold to move on to Provincials. The Discovery Day component gives students a chance to broaden their perspectives on skilled trades and technology and to experience some hands-on activities.”

Holm was busy in Abbotsford tracking the competitors from Okanagan College (nine different trades competitions). They brought home eight medals: the three gold, the silver in Aerospace Technology, a bronze in Culinary Arts (Siobhan Detkavich), a silver in Heavy Equipment Service (Kian Banner), a bronze in IT Network Systems (Frank van Zandwijk) and a bronze in Refrigeration (Adam Sohnchen).