SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. -- Zack Hensley, an electricity student at Triplett Tech and a senior at Stonewall Jackson High School, has big plans for this June. He is going to Kansas City, Kansas, to compete against 49 other students from across America in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference.
Zack is representing not only Triplett Tech and Shenandoah County Public Schools, but also the entire state of Virginia. Zack’s first place win at the state SkillsUSA competition at the Roanoke Civic Center in April sealed his spot at nationals.
According to their website, SkillsUSA is a “partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA’s mission is to empower its members to become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens.” The National Leadership and Skills Conference has been described as a “showcase of career and technical education students.”
At the state competition, Zack had three challenges to complete. First, he was given the electrical blueprint for a house and inside a wooden work station, he had four hours to install multiple electrical components including the main breaker panel, single pole switches, 3-way and 4–way switches, circuits for the kitchen, dryer, a service entrance, and lights; and GFI and split receptacles. He had to bend conduit to install the wires.
Next, Zack had to use an electrical meter to trouble shoot three electrical sets-up that would not work. Finally, there was a written exam on the National Electrical Code.
What separated Zack from his competitors? Tim Stephens, Electricity teacher at Triplett Tech, has the answer. “Zach had studied hard,” he said. And, during the competition, “Zack paid attention to neatness and detail. There had been recent National Electrical code changes, and Zack adhered to these when he wired the house,” said Tim Stephens.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) from Roanoke designed and judged the state competition. This union also donated the $2000 worth of electrical tools that Zack received as the first place winner.
In a way, Zack’s trip to Kansas City began several years ago when he toured Triplett Tech with his ninth grade class. He saw students working on wiring projects in the electrical cubicles, talked to older friends who were taking the class, and enrolled at Triplett Tech as a junior.
About his interest in electricity, “I’m not afraid of electricity,” he said. “but I am respectful. “
Zack, who is the son of Christina and Todd Hensley, plans to major in electrical engineering at Virginia Tech.
Tim Stephens is not new to SkillsUSA competitions. He’s in his twenty-sixth year at Triplett and during that time, he has taken students to nationals eight times. What’s new this year is the fact that Triplett swept the District completion in electricity: Zack placed first; Andrew Ross placed second; and Cole Johnston was third. “No school has ever won all three top places,” he said.
At the state competition, two other electricity students placed in the Industrial Motor Control competition. Andrew Ross placed third, and Cole Johnston placed fourth.
Congratulations Zack Hensley, Andrew Ross, Cole Johnston, and Tim Stephens!