It’s all about the Nationals

By on December 13, 2017

In a 48-hour period, recent Ephrata High School graduate Nicholas (Nick) Vanderwende competed for national championships in two disciplines.

This summer, Nick spent eight hours under the watchful eyes of the judges at the 53rd annual National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Ky. It is the showcase of career and technical education students.

Two days later, Vanderwende and six Mountaineer teammates stepped onto the lanes at Smyrna Bowling Center near Nashville, Tenn., to compete as a team and as individuals for the 2017 U.S. High School Bowling National Championship.

Nick was nominated to compete in the District 4/5 championship by his Brownstown CTC architectural drafting teacher David Ecenrode, along with fellow classmate Cody May.

“He has had such a positive impact on my life,” said Vanderwende, after the week of travel and competition. “Not just as my instructor, but as a new friend that has helped me with multiple challenges.”

The 20 competitors at the District test had three hours, and were given an Architectural CAD problem dealing with four elevations and a cross section of the supplied floor plan. There was also a cross section labeling test. Two advanced to the state-wide competition. Nick was one of the two.

Eighteen seniors competed in Hershey for the state crown, tackling the same format, but a different architectural challenge.

“I won because I was the most accurate to the scope and also the answer key,” Vanderwende said. “I showed more detail than any other competitor, and even beat an adult who is attending college for architectural design.”

That victory set up Nick’s trip to Louisville. Vanderwende and Ecenrode left June 17, along with ten other students from the county’s three CTC schools at Brownstown, Mount Joy and Willow Street. They stayed at the Brown Hotel in Louisville. They competed at the Kentucky Expo Center.

In the days leading up to the eight hour challenge, the students had their experience enhanced by a number of cultural stops.

“We traveled to Churchill Downs, the Louisville Slugger Museum and I got to meet Evander Holyfield at ‘Fourth Street Live.’ I also tried the famous Hot Brown Sandwich and Derby Pie. We also took a cruise on the ‘Belle of Louisville,’ which was an amazing experience,” he said.

After the competition, Vanderwende stood as the 37th best in the nation in architectural drafting.

He describes his effort this way, “I was hand sketching a cross section through a fireplace, drawing floor plans, cross sections, roof plans, elevations and schedules to meet the criteria of the scope given.”

Although he did not capture any of the scholarship prizes, Nick did come home with free software, a free mouse and other gifts for competing in the national event. He was also named during his senior year as one of 20 to the National Technical Honor Society from Brownstown.

Nick is now attending Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in physics.

“It is a small school with a beautiful atmosphere,” described Vanderwende. “It has many on-site amenities that interest and help me. Engineering jobs are always in demand as technology continues to improve and advance.”

Bowling will also not be far from his mind, even though Penn Tech does not have a team.

“I see myself continuing to grow as a person, a bowler and a worker,” he said. “I feel like I can attain a job in the engineering field and maybe have the honor of being a professional bowler.”



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