Electrician students to compete again at Ideal National
Palm Beach State College’s Residential and Commercial Electrician program is charged up and ready to compete at the Ideal National Championship for the second year in a row.
Once again, a PBSC electrician student is the fastest in Florida, but also this year, another student and a recent graduate have earned Wild Card spots. All will represent Palm Beach State next month at this annual “race-against-the-clock” competition that determines the best professional and student/apprentice electricians in North America.
Roberto Rangel won the top spot in Florida by finishing the electrical task in the competition’s qualifying event with the fastest time of 1:07:19. His classmate Hermenegildo Vasquez earned the first-place Wild Card spot in the South region, and graduate Agapito Arvizu, Jr. won the second-place Wild Card spot. Wild Card slots go to those who did not win in their state, but who achieved a qualifying time that ranks in the top three. Last year, Arvizu was the state winner and the first PBSC student to compete at the Ideal National Championship. He’s now an apprentice with the Independent Electrical Contractors and employed by Kasper Electrical.
Rangel, Vasquez and Arvizu will travel—all expenses paid—to the Ideal National Championship at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Nov. 8 – 9. There they will go up against the student/apprentice winners from the 49 other states and four Canadian territories, as well as 12 other Wild Card contestants, in four rounds of competition, facing elimination after each round. Sponsored by Ideal Electrical, a leading manufacturer of electrical tools, the competition awards over $600,000 in cash and prizes in professional and student/apprentice categories. The winner of the student/apprentice national title takes home $30,000 and a trophy, the second-place winner wins $20,000, and third place gets $10,000.
Instructor Josh Colvin, who has placed in the competition’s professional category in prior years, is thrilled to have another winning year.
“It takes a lot to dedicate yourself to make your times in this competition,” Colvin said. “Doing the task is not easy, but the more you practice and the more you do it, the quicker you get. I just try to make the students the best they can be, and in the process, encourage them to motivate themselves.”
Over 30,000 students/apprentices attended qualifying events nationwide from March through mid-October, with 600 attending in Florida alone. Ideal officials judged all events, and in addition to the fastest completion time, evaluated wire connections, termination and connectivity as well as accuracy, workmanship and safety.
At the Championship Weekend, the students will be given a different task in each round. Each task remains a secret until 15 minutes before the competition when they will be given a written description of it. While the students can plan their steps and strategies, the first time they attempt these tasks will be in competition.
Rangel, of West Palm Beach, had been a satellite technician for 10 years before injuring his back three years ago. He joined the Electrician program as a way to get off roofs and use his electrical skills inside homes and commercial buildings.
Rangel and Vasquez were neck and neck during the practice rounds, exchanging wins. Rangel considers himself lucky to have come out on top in the qualifying round. They graduate from the program in December.
“I’m excited and very happy to represent Palm Beach State College, so I hope to do my best,” Rangel said.
Vasquez, also of West Palm Beach, worked with his uncle, an electrician and subcontractor, for about two years. He learned a lot, but most importantly, he found his niche.
“I love electrical work, and I love competing,” Vasquez said. “I’m psyched about going to Orlando and look forward to the experience.”
Colvin and fellow instructors Dan Neff and Alan Mullenax will also go to Championship Weekend, along with eight other students, all eager to see 40,000 professionals and students/apprentices in fierce competition. As in past years, they will drive up in a van in order to bring back the leftover electrical materials that are donated to the participating schools.
“Otherwise, it would just get thrown away, and we can reuse it in the classroom for the next students to practice with,” Colvin said.
Ideal Qualifying Event Photos
Rangel, Vasquez and Arvizu earned their trip to the nationals at a qualifying event held at the PBSC’s Electrician program lab on the Lake Worth campus. About 100 students and others competed during the two-day event Oct. 3-4. (Photos by Ariel Reda)