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Morrisville State touts high-tech equipment and its facilities during SkillsUSA contest

MORRISVILLE, NY— Matt McDaniels stood calmly, his adrenaline racing as a masked man pointed a rifle at a tavern employee demanding money. After verbal commands to drop the weapon went unheeded, McDaniels quickly reached for the firearm in his holster and shot the gunman.

The simulated exercise was part of a criminal justice contest during the Region II BOCES SkillsUSA competition held recently at Morrisville State. The “Shoot, Don’t Shoot” simulator is a high-tech device that provides participants with real-life scenarios and an inside look at a career in law enforcement.

An annual event, SkillsUSA features high school students from technical schools and BOCES programs throughout Central New York competing in a variety of events ranging from entrepreneurship, nurse assisting, job interviews, crime scene investigation, commercial baking, culinary arts, and cosmetology, to collision repair technology, carpentry, welding and electrical construction wiring.

SkillsUSA provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development while building and reinforcing self-confidence, work ethics and communication skills.

High school students from more than 15 schools showcased a multitude of skills and talents during this year’s event which provides students an opportunity to showcase their skills, while exposing them to Morrisville State’s academic programs, services and state-of-the-art facilities.

Contests were held throughout the campus including the college’s award-winning automotive building, wood technology facility, and the Copper Turret, a fine dining restaurant run by the college.

During the criminal justice simulator exercise, McDaniels was armed with a semi-automatic Glock pistol, outfitted with a laser in its barrel. Standing about 15 feet from a giant screen, he found himself in an officer’s shoes.

“This is really cool,” said McDaniels, who competed through Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES. “It is the closest you get to firing a service weapon and actually being in a situation like a real cop.” McDaniels, 17, of New Hartford, is familiar with handling guns and plans on a career in network security someday.

The simulator has become an invaluable tool in the college’s criminal justice program and is also available to the State University Police at Morrisville and area law enforcement for practice.

Also showcased during the competition was the college-run restaurant, The Copper Turret, the scene of a culinary arts competition. In a commercial baking contest held in Seneca Dining Hall, participants were required to bake one dozen cookies, bake and display one dozen muffins, then decorate a cake, all within a two-hour timeframe.

“Everyone in this (baking contest) did an outstanding job,” said John Felton, chairperson of the baking competition and assistant professor in the college’s hospitality programs. “They displayed passion and professionalism and were willing to take on any task given to them.”

Donald O’Bryan, 17, of Fulton, participated in a quiz bowl in the SkillsUSA leadership contest. “I always look forward to Skills because it gives me an opportunity to challenge myself and meet others who want to challenge themselves and become better intellectually,” he said.

O’Bryan, who competed through Oswego County BOCES, participated in last year’s SkillsUSA where his team earned a gold medal.

While Zack Hayward, 16, of Vestal and Broome-Tioga BOCES, was busy testing a battery’s charge during the motorcycle repair competition, Nathan Lewis, 18, of Chenango Forks, and Broome-Tioga BOCES, was measuring the lobe on a camshaft of a motorcycle. “This is a great opportunity for me to gain skills in a very impressive environment,” Lewis said of Morrisville’s automotive facilities.

“They’re representing their schools, they’re representing classes back at the BOCES, so it’s just very exciting for them to be a part of the competition,” said Kathy Finnerty, a teacher at Oswego County BOCES.

The competition was just as rewarding to Morrisville students including Andrew Button, of Penn Yan, who trained on the criminal justice simulator last semester and now gained experience working it during the competition.

“It is a great experience for me,” he said. “The simulator is an asset to the program, which is already great, giving students a taste of everything from penal law to arson and bomb investigations.”

Competitions were judged by Morrisville State faculty, students, and industry and education representatives. The college offered scholarship opportunities to some of the award winners.

An awards ceremony followed the contests with trophies awarded to the top three finishers in each competition. The top winners in each category go on to compete in the statewide competition. One winner from each state competition will go on to a national competition.

Morrisville State sets the world in motion for students. Curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology. Lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs, the college was named to the 2012 President’s Higher Community Education Service Honor Roll. The college was recognized, by U.S. News and World Report, in its top tier Best Regional Colleges list and ranked second among regional colleges nationwide for outperforming its anticipated graduation rate. Visit www.morrisville.edu to experience, Morrisville in motion.