Cuesta College career and technical education students are gearing up for SkillsUSA national conference by competing in regional qualifiers, including a Feb. 2 competition in Salinas.

SkillsUSA is the national organization for students in trade, industrial, technical and health occupations education. It sponsors the SkillsUSA Championships held annually in Missouri to recognize the achievements of students and to encourage them to strive for excellence and pride in their occupations.

A dozen Cuesta students are competing this year, including six who travel to Salinas on Saturday: Chris Dickinson, Melissa Perozzi and Michael Mullen in auto service technology; Eva Saucedo in commercial baking; and Faith Foster and Simon Rowe, who earned a bronze medal in last year’s national convention, in welding.

Six students who competed in a regional contest in Hayward on Jan. 26 have qualified for the state finals scheduled April 4-7 at the Town & Country Resort and Conference Center in San Diego’s Mission Valley.

They are: Nic Peterson, who earned a gold medal in motorcycle service tech; Travis Livingstone, a gold medalist in collision repair; silver medalist Gary Griswold in auto refinishing; and a team of three — Jon Ellery, Patrick Hickey and Ryan May — who got gold in welding fabrication.

Nearly 10,000 spectators — including teachers, parents and business partners — are expected to attend the 49th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo., on June 24-28. The conference attracts than 5,000 of the nation’s best career and technical education students — all state contest winners — who will compete hands-on in nearly 100 different trade, technical and leadership fields.

Jay Thompson | (805) 546-3100, ext. 2636 | Email: | Posted Feb. 1, 2013