Youth In Action Kansas City competition computes for Hood River student

Fountains are everywhere in Kansas City, reports

Jonathan Collins of Hood River, who put thumbs up

to the waters’ relief from the Midwest heat. Above, Jonathan and his mother, Laurie, relax during their busy week at SkillsUSA competition.

Submitted photos

By KIRBY NEUMANN-REA

News editor

July 20, 2005

Fireflies and computer bugs stood out for Jonathan Collins of Hood River, who recently competed in the National SkillsUSA competition in Kansas City, Mo.

Collins, a 2005 graduate of Hood River Valley High School, competed against 43 other students in the Computer Maintenance Technology category, placing 16th.

About 4,700 youths from 50 states and three territories competed in aircraft mechanics, cooking, construction, welding, public speaking, photography, firefighting, robotics, collision repair and more categories. Collins qualified by taking first at state SkillsUSA in Roseburg in May.

“It was awesome,” he said of his Kansas City experience. “I wish I could have stayed longer and looked around at the city.” The heat and humidity were oppressive, he said, but he enjoyed the architecture and the man-made — and natural — attractions of Kansas City.

“I saw fireflies for the first time. That was cool,” Collins said.

“Our schedule was busy, but we still had time to go to an amusement park one evening with great water rides,” he said. Jonathan and his mother, Laurie, who accompanied him, were impressed with the large number of outdoor fountains throughout Kansas City.

But the SkillsUSA competition and all its events kept Collins busy — “practically 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. all five days,” he said.

In three days of competition Collins had to troubleshoot and fix a variety of computer problems that were very familiar to him based on his experience working at Hood River County and Adaptive Computers in Hood River, and from school courses. Collins also fixed computers in the school program known as StRUT — Students Recycling Used Technology.

“They made the competition so that it would be like any of the problems you might work on in a real repair shop,” Collins said. Between the “real life” computer issues and talking with his fellow competitors, SkillsUSA was a great learning experience, he said.

“I learned a lot from the competition and other people. We talked a lot,” he said.

This fall, Collins will enroll in the computers program at Columbia Gorge Community College, and he plans within a year or two to get his own computer repair business up and running.

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