Lithgow High School's Zac Stanford claims silver at WorldSkills Nationals

SILVER MEDAL: Zac Stanford and Zac Mitchell back at Lithgow High School following their WorldSkills National Championships appearance. Picture: KIRSTY HORTON.
SILVER MEDAL: Zac Stanford and Zac Mitchell back at Lithgow High School following their WorldSkills National Championships appearance. Picture: KIRSTY HORTON.

Old fashioned workmanship met cutting edge technology at the WorldSkills Australia’s National Championships. 

Lithgow was incredibly proud that one of its representatives, Zac Stanford in construction, came home with a silver medal in the VETIS competition (for students still in school). 

He was joined at the competition by Zac Mitchell, competing in IDT (Information and Digital Technology). It is the first time Lithgow High School students have progressed to the national final, which was held in Darling Harbour from Saturday, June 2 to Tuesday, June 5. 

Zac Stanford said he had no idea he was going to finish so well. 

“I thought I was going to come last,” he said. 

The pressure was on right from the start as they were presented with a stack of timber and a set of plans. The 100 students were set the task to build a half hexagon garden arbour with a battened roof.  

“A lot of the measurements were left off the plans so it was up to us to figure that out – the angles and things,” he said. 

“It had a lot of old school woodworking joints that have been replaced by newer technologies so it's sort of a dying art.”

In the centre around them, hundreds of students laboured at various tasks while 10,000 student visitors, including 50 from Lithgow High School, passed by over the three days. But there was no getting distracted. 

Students had only 18 hours over the three days to complete the arbour. 

“Three hours of that was drawing a full scale top view and a half scale side elevation so that took up half the first day and then from then on it was just on the tools flat out right up until the last second,” Zac said. 

The judges were on hand to answer questions about the project, but it was up to them whether they chose to answer, Zac said. 

The silver medal win has been a big boost for Zac’s confidence heading into the HSC and for his major work. 

“I’m building a darts cabinet out of Australian hardwoods,” he said. 

“I learned a lot of skills [at the competition].” 

It was a very different experience for Zac Mitchell working in the virtual world. 

“Our [challenge] was a lot more open-ended,” he said.

“We were given a variety of different tasks for each day and we were marked on those tasks. We weren’t given one big project to do.”

As well as considering Work, Health and Safety issues and risk assessments, the students worked on a virtual machine using Virtualbox.

“We actually had to go through and install an operating system of our choice out of four… We had to create the virtual environment, install the operating system on the virtual environment. We then had to modify the amount of available RAM the virtual machine had. Then we had to optimise the operating system,” Zac said.  

On the third day of competition, the students made a presentation on the tasks they had performed. 

Zac said he was definitely going back, as a TAFE or university student. 

“What I got out of it was I suppose I learned to deal with high stress environments a little bit better. Having those time constraints, having a much more compressed amount of time, helped me to speed up all my documentation creation and producing it all to an industry standard,” he said. 

The competition was tight. In ITC, there were only 12 points separating first and last place, while in construction there were only four points between first and fourth. 

The students, who both finished first in their regional WorldSkills event held in Lithgow in term three last year to reach the nationals, thanked their teachers Mr Brownlow, head teacher TAS, and former Lithgow High School IDT teacher Mr Dingle for the help and guidance to reach the competition.