This summer, Lloydminster Comprehensive High School (LCHS) graduate Carson Gustafson is going to take his talents to south beach - as in the south beaches of Sao Paulo, Brazil for the 43rd WorldSkills Competition.
“It is a four-day Olympic-style competition where there are four different projects that they give us,” Gustafson said. “We get a day to work on each. It’s usually around six hours. The idea is to get as much done as possible as close to the contact description as they give us.”
The WorldSkills Competition is held every two years and features a variety of trades-based skills competitions. Gustafson is one of 30 Canadian competitors going, as each one competes in a different skill discipline. Altogether, the event, which runs from Aug. 11 to 16, will host around 1,000 people ages 17 to 22.
Gustafson will compete in Mechanical Engineering Design, which is part of the Manufacturing and Engineering Technology skills branch. It involves using computer software to design products in 3-D, and creating specifications and instructions for manufacturing parts.
“In high school, I had heard about the skills competitions through my drafting teacher (Don Yusep). He sends students every year to the provincial competitions in Alberta,” said Gustafson, who attended his first provincial event in 2011 as a Grade 11 student. “I placed sixth out of 13 competitors, but I knew from that point on that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to commit my life to bettering myself in drafting and design and keep competing in these competitions.”
The next year, Gustafson captured first place at provincials and followed it up with a gold medal at the Skills Canada National Competition a week later. It was the first of three consecutive years, from 2012 to 2014, that Gustafson left nationals with gold in Mechanical Computer-aided Design (CAD).
The 21-year-old currently works as a piping designer at Integra Engineering in Lloydminster. He’s been with the company since graduating the CAD engineering technology program at Saskatchewan Polytechnic in the summer of 2014, but says an office space had been waiting for him long before.
“They actually offered to pay for my schooling and promised me a position there after I graduated from college, and they did this right out of high school,” Gustafson said. “And in return, I came and worked for them after I graduated.”
Gustafson has a training team that is helping him prepare for Brazil. Skills Canada selected Michel Michaud from Montreal as his expert, and Gustafson chose Yusep, his former teacher, as his local coach.
“It’s very gratifying seeing your students succeed in this way,” Yusep said. “Sometimes it’s a little overwhelming to see them really come into their own.”
With the event roughly four months away, Gustafson dedicates much of his weekends and a few hours during each week to honing his craft.
“I have been going through tests from previous years to train. Michel is also helping provide problems and Don is helping me work through them,” Gustafson explained. “I’m feeling a little more confident about it every day.”
After Brazil, the next WorldSkills Competition takes place in 2017, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, has already been selected as the host. Gustafson’s eligibility will have expired by that time.