LEESBURG, VA. — Nicholas Michalenko of Savoy, Mass., and a student at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northamption, Mass., will represent the United States in Leipzig, Germany, in the plumbing competition during the biennial WorldSkills Competition. He will compete as a member of the United States “WorldTeam.” The 42nd international event will be held July 2-7, 2013.

Michalenko was recently awarded the silver medal in plumbing and heating in November 2012 during the WorldSkills America’s competition in Brazil where the U.S. competed against 23 other countries in preparation for the WorldSkills Competition.

During his junior year, in 2010, Michalenko made it all the way to the national SkillsUSA Championships competition in Kansas City where he placed sixth in the plumbing competition. During his senior year, he made it back to Kansas City, determined to win and he placed first in the contest. He also successfully completed other qualifying prerequisites prior to being chosen for the team.

When asked about how he became involved in the field, Michalenko said, “I took a tour of Smith and decided that plumbing was the career for me. I was hesitant at first to attend the school because it meant getting on two different busses, first one at 6 a.m. and traveling a total of three hours a day. It also meant leaving all of my friends that would be attending our local high school only 15 minutes away from my home in Savoy.”

His decision to compete in plumbing was solidified by his relationship with his teacher.

“I heard about SkillsUSA from Scott Paterson, my plumbing teacher who also happened to be the SkillsUSA advisor for the school,” Michalenko said. “He was very pro SkillsUSA and felt that I had special talent and should give the competition a try.”

When asked about his abilities in the plumbing field, Michalenko’s plumbing teacher Paterson, said, “I think very highly of Nicholas’ abilities. I personally think that the future for Nicholas could include teaching for Caltech or MIT and working for NASA on the side. The harder the problem, the more excited Nicholas gets about it.”

Michalenko says he is looking forward to seeing how other parts of the world perform in the plumbing field, and he admits that his greatest challenge will be that he is only familiar with the way plumbing is done in the U.S.

“Although the principal of plumbing is the same throughout the world, there are many variations,” he said. “This will be challenging, but a challenge is why I’m here.”

In the WorldSkills Plumbing and Heating contest, competitors must carry out the requirements of the following modules: Processing commercial materials into a simple installation according to the drawing; building up part of a gas, water, heating and effluent pipe installation and maintenance of the systems; constructing a sub-assembly of an installation on a workstation; and, complying with the standard dimensions given on the project. The competitor must demonstrate a range of skills with plumbing, heating and piping equipment including: measuring, setting out and marking of materials and pipe-work; bending of pipes by machine and by hand; silver soldering; soft soldering; crimping/pressing composite pipes); fusion joints and welding; push-fit rubber ring joints; connecting by threading, clamping, and compression joints; assembly of pipes and accessories; pressure testing using only air, to the prescribed pressures; and, pre-installed installation of simple plumbing system to permit the repair and maintenance/repair of system components.

Every two years, hundreds of young people from 53 member countries or regions compete in the WorldSkills Competition. Considered “the best of the best,” contestants compete for four days in 45 occupational skill areas from economic sectors including manufacturing, information technology, transportation, construction and services. Accompanied by their teachers, trainers and industry technical committee experts, these young people compete before the public in contests that are run and judged by industry using demanding international standards.

Over its 60-year history, WorldSkills International (formerly known as the "Skill Olympics") has come to symbolize the pinnacle of excellence in vocational training. It provides a unique means of exchange and comparison of world-class competency standards in the industrial trades and service sectors of the global economy.

In 2013, more than 1,000 competitors will test their skills in Leipzig, Germany. Five thousand international experts, delegates and judges will gather from around the world, and 3,000 volunteers will be recruited to assist in the event. A total of 150,000 student and public spectators will attend the competition at the Leipzig Trade Fair and Exhibition Center. For more information about the competition, go to: http://www.worldskills.org or http://www.worldskillsleipzig2013.com.

Nicholas Michalenko is a member of SkillsUSA, the organization that represents the United States in the WorldSkills Competition. Competitors in WorldSkills must be under the age of 23. There will be a total of 20 members of WorldTeam.

SkillsUSA helps students discover and grow their career passions. As a nationwide partnership of students, instructors and industry working together, SkillsUSA works to ensure America has a skilled workforce. It helps every student excel. The nationwide career and technical education student organization annually serves more than 320,000 high school, college and postsecondary students — and their instructors — in technical, skilled, and service occupation instructional programs.