CHARLO – From April 9 to 11, some Charlo High School students were busy winning awards in Havre at the state wide SkillsUSA competition.
Charlo has a history of winning at the competition but this years project is a little different.
"Past years projects have been based more on woodworking skills and welding skills and this year we decided to go a little bit bigger and better and decided to add some more technically advanced things to our chapter display, such as coding and facial tracking," said junior Landers Smith.
There were two parts to constructing this project. The first part was constructing the frame and sculpture itself.
“We designed this thing on a program called Solidworks. There are four main components there’s a top and a bottom and then this thing that comes out," senior Toby Odom said. "We cut them all separately so the bottom and the top were rolled. We made a roller to roll the sheet metal and then these were just cut out of a plasma cutter and torch and welded together.”
Next came the technology on the inside.
“You have this program right here called spider and it runs graphic systems like when you use the camera up here," said freshman Sanders Perry. "And then all of this on the inside is the coding language called Python, and there’s a bunch of different ones you can use, but we used Python.”
The blend of construction and technology makes the group’s project unique. Just as unique as such a small school going up against bigger programs.
“We’re really small in the area, we are. Not a lot of schools in Montana participate, especially when they go to nationals, and just being where we are at right now, it’s kind of like, really big for us because it gives us a name for ourselves," senior Paije Bauer added. "It’s kinda odd, I guess, that we’ve made it this far as the top schools across the nation that have a lot more technology, and their budgets are a lot bigger.”
Despite being smaller, their staff advisor thinks they still have a good shot to win even at the next level.
“When you go to nationals there’s 50 states potentially. So they’ll be up against the best of the best and I’ve think they’ve got a good shot," said the group’s advisor Stan Atchley. "I think they do good every year, and like I’ve said we’ve taken in this event we’ve had gold six times in the past seven or eight years they’ve done really really good.”
The group hopes to win at the national competition in Louisville Kentucky from June 25 to the 29.