Photo Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Photo Credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Sask Polytech student wins gold medal and Best of Region award at Skills Canada National Competition

What does it take to compete with the best and brightest students and apprentices in the skilled trades and technologies? Phillip Beug will tell you it's a combination of hard work, attention to detail and the ability to remain calm under pressure. And he should know. As a precision machining student at Saskatchewan Polytechnic's Regina campus, he brought home two medals at this year's 21st Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC) held in Saskatoon from May 27 to 30 at Prairieland Park.

Over 500 students and apprentices from all 10 provinces and three territories came together to compete in over 40 disciplines within six industry sectors. Thousands of spectators came out to watch the competitors test their mettle, including 2,800 students from local high schools. Thanks to the interactive Try-a-Trade® and Technology activities offered on site visiting students had the opportunity to try their hand at trades, such as welding, painting, pipe fitting, hair styling and construction.

Beug competed in the precision machining category. He was tasked with creating two intricate parts from a set of drawings. One part was built with a mill and the other with a lathe. He had 3.5 hours to construct each part as accurately as possible. As with all the competitions, Beug's work was evaluated by independent judges according to industry standards. His focus and exactitude paid off when he won the gold medal. "It was pretty exciting," he says. "I was pretty confident that I had won it and I guess I did."

If that wasn't enough, he also triumphed in the Best of Region category for Saskatchewan — an accomplishment for those who earn the highest overall scoring in their province or territory.

When asked what qualities helped him bring home two medals, Beug says, "You have to be calm. You can't worry about the other competitors — they have to worry about their own projects. I'm pretty determined to get things right the first time. Attention to detail is important."

Emmet Jacklin, a machine shop instructor at Sask Polytech's Saskatoon campus, has seen the myriad benefits from his students' participation in the competition. "What I've seen from my students is a confidence boost — they gain the confidence to go out, find good jobs and enter into the workforce."

Jacklin adds that the competition is a great way to showcase in-demand trades that people typically wouldn't be aware of. "A lot of people wouldn't know what a machine shop is or what a machinist does, so it's a great opportunity for the kids - and adults - who come to visit the competition to see what sorts of things happen in the trades. They'll learn that trades such as machining involve a lot of creativity and require a certain type of ability that some people may have an interest in."

By the end of the weekend, six Sask Polytech students had won medals, proving themselves to be among the nation's best in their respective categories. In addition to Beug, the other Sask Polytech winners included:

  • Scott Walsh, Moose Jaw Campus, who won gold in the automation and control category
  • Bradie Reimer, Regina Campus, who won silver for graphic design
  • Dylan Spicer, Saskatoon Campus, who earned a silver medal for the steamfitter-pipefitter category
  • Kyle Ringrose-Hobbs, Saskatoon Campus, who won bronze in the industrial mechanic/millwright category and
  • Ryan Blight, Moose Jaw Campus, who earned bronze for architectural technology and design

As they enter the workforce, the valuable skills they've sharpened at the SCNC will give them an edge on the competition. That's certainly the case for Beug, who says, "It's pretty exciting to win a medal. It goes on your resumé and it looks good to potential employers."