St. Gallen, Switzerland — Canadians have competed successfully in the WorldSkills 2003 Competition, June 19-22, 2003, in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The WorldSkills summits happen only every two years
Details about the event can be found on a special site on the Internet, at www.worldskillsmechatronics.com. The final results have not yet been released but will be posted by June 26, 2003, on www.worldskills.com.
The website has links to about 40 trades competitions at the event, including mechatronics. During the competition, visitors to the site could follow the competitions first hand via web cam. Canadian teams were competing against those from 23 other countries.
Festo Canada of Mississauga, Ont., has been sponsoring and organising provincial and national mechatronics competitions since the early 90s. Mechatronics is a multi-technology discipline (MECHA for mechanical, TRON for electronics, and ICS for informatics or IT).
In partnership with Skills Canada, Festo has coached and prepared the gold medal winners of the Canadian National Mechatronics Skills Competitions every other year. The winners then compete in the following year’s international competition.
The WorldSkills mechatronics competition reflects the way people work on the shop-floor — under pressure to design and implement solutions, maintain and constantly improve production — and to get machines fixed quickly when faults occur.
Each team consiststs of two members and a coach. Why two? While industry requires that each individual master the different facets of mechatronics, it also recognises that each person has their strengths and weaknesses — and that only people working in a team, constantly learning from each other, can master the challenges of manufacturing excellence. The competition demonstrates how these essential personal skills and qualities demanded by teamwork can be improved.
Festo has sponsored and coached Canadian teams participating in Taiwan (’93), Lyon (’95), St.Gallen (’97), Montreal (’99), Seoul (’01), and now St. Gallen again in 2003. Since 2001, Festo International has been a global sponsor of WorldSkills.
During the Seoul Skills summit two years ago, Festo Montreal colleague Benoit Maisonneuve was chosen by his fellow ‘experts’ from the other participating countries to be the ‘Chief Expert’ for the Mechatronics competition. In this role, he spent two years preparing for St. Gallen, liaising with colleagues from close to 30 countries, while at the same time coaching team members Andrew Beselaere and Nathan Rivest from St. Clair College to prepare them for their contest.
Chris Kalemba, president of Festo Inc., Mississauga, Ont., reported from the WorldSkills event in Switzerland. He can be reached at 905-624-9000, ext. 3000.