SNOW HILL — America may be competing for medals in London this summer but one local student has already nabbed gold in the National SkillsUSA contest.
“It was a lot of work,” said Daniel Beck, a rising junior from Worcester Technical High School (WTHS).
Competing in Kansas City, Mo., in June, Beck brought home a gold medal in the Principles of Technology division with his presentation on solar panels.
“I knew there were a lot of physics behind it,” he said of the green technology.
More than 6,000 students took part in the 48th SkillsUSA contest this year. Competitors hailed from all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. Beck secured the only gold medal that the state would win.
Starting with theoretical concepts and moving all the way through practical applications, Beck had to research solar panels and explain their mechanics and behavior.
“We had to go through all of the theories … Basically, I had to write an essay on the topic,” he said.
Beck explained that the first theories that would lead to solar panels date back into the 19th century. As far as the physics go, Beck had to develop a power point presentation as well as a physical model to illustrate how sunlight striking the panels forces electrons to shift, thereby creating energy.
Besides the research and analysis abilities Beck honed with SkillsUSA, he revealed that some non-scientific talents benefited as well.
“I felt like, in preparing for this, I became a better speaker,” he said.
Since he’s only a rising junior, Beck will have plenty of chances to return to SkillsUSA and admitted that he “definitely wants to go back.” However, he is considering switching categories into another field, potentially with a more mechanical leaning.
Whatever he does compete in, Beck plans on continuing down a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) course. He is currently spending his summer in a NASA internship developing code and working with sounding rockets and a self-correcting telescope.
Beck said he will continue studying engineering at WTHS.
“I definitely want to do some type of engineering,” he confirmed. “The more people you can pull into engineering the better.”