Four KPU students to represent B.C. in national skilled trades competition

Mon, May 27, 2024

Four students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) are gearing up to represent B.C. on the national stage after winning gold medals at the 2024 Skills Canada British Columbia Provincial Competition.

Jorge Lorenzana Lopez and Nguyen Cao An (Ryan) Do will compete in the mechatronics category at the Skills Canada National Competition in Quebec City, May 30 to 31, while KPU horticulture students David Cragg and Kyle Kant will represent B.C. in the landscape category.

"I feel great about my team. We performed terrifically," says Lorenzana Lopez about their first-place provincials finish. "I am grateful to KPU and my instructors for putting in the effort and supporting us during this competition."

Students Nguyen Cao An (Ryan) Do (left) and Jorge Lorenzana Lopez (right) with gold medals.

Lorenzana Lopez, an international student from Mexico who studies Mechatronics and Advanced Manufacturing Technology, developed a passion for mechatronics and robotics from watching superhero movies like Iron Man.

"I dreamed of building my inventions using electronics, mechanics, control and programming. I was interested in studying something that could allow me to gather multiple disciplines and have a promising future. That is how I discovered mechatronics," says Lorenzana Lopez.

In 2023, Lorenzana Lopez and Do became the first team from B.C. in over two decades to compete in the mechatronics category — winning gold in the process.

Now, the winners are preparing to compete at the national level for a second time.

"As we experienced last year, there could be new components that we have never seen in our lives or projects that require combining our skills," says Lorenzana Lopez.

Spanning two days, the national competition puts students to the test. Each day, they're given a six-hour task to demonstrate their proficiency in building and controlling electrical and mechanical systems and show off their teamwork and critical thinking skills.

"Competing against other provinces is very challenging," says Ron Murray, a KPU instructor and mechatronics team coach. "Students have to compete with other highly skilled teams and manage their stress to complete each task better and faster than the others." 

Murray says the competition challenges students to sharpen their skills and helps them build professional networks, essential for advancing their careers. 

Students working on a task
Students Jorge Lorenzana Lopez (left) and Nguyen Cao An (Ryan) Do (right) are working on a task. 

Every year, Skills Canada hosts competitions to promote skilled trade and technology careers to Canadian youth. The contest kicks off at the provincial level, with winners progressing to the national stage to represent their provinces across more than 40 categories. Those who win on the national level earn the honour of representing Canada internationally at the WorldSkills International Competition.

KPU students Brayden Lawrence and Logan Micheal Yakemchuk also participated in the B.C. competition, earning silver medals in the industrial mechanic millwright and plumbing categories, respectively.