WorldSkills Russia: Why Participate?

The qualification round of WorldSkills Russia in Laser Technologies has recently taken place at ITMO; this was the first time the university hosted such a competition. The participants showed their skills in working with laser systems and equipment. The round’s winner, Yaroslav Golubev from the Faculty of Laser and Light Engineering, advanced to the All-Russian round that will take place in late November in Moscow.

WorldSkills is a skills excellence competition conducted throughout the world and aimed at promoting service jobs and increasing their status value. The contests are organized by the WorldSkills International organization, in which 77 countries are represented. The last international competition was held in Abu-Dhabi (UAE), where the Russian team got 1st place in the team rating and brought back 6 gold, 4 silver and one bronze medal, as well as 21 Medallions of Excellence. In 2019, the international round will take place in Kazan.

The WorldSkills movement originated in Spain after the Second World War; at that time, the country was in dire need of labor force, and a national competition was held in order to promote blue-collar jobs. In 1950, the first international competition took place between Spain and Portugal, and three years later representatives of other European countries joined it, as well. Russia first conducted a WorldSkills championship in 2013 in Togliatti, where its first team for the international competition was formed.

WorldSkills Russia’s qualification round in Laser Technology

“The WorldSkills movement allows us to discover best young specialists and develop collaborations with international enterprises. By involving industrial partners in the contests, universities promote particular competencies. ITMO University, for instance, hosts the qualification round in Laser Technology in collaboration with its partners, the Laser Center and Procolorit companies. Specialists in laser technologies are high-class professionals who can design, assemble and adjust laser equipment all by themselves,” explains Eldar Osmanov, the chief expert on the Laser Technologies competence of the qualification round.

Six students of the Faculty of Laser and Light Engineering were selected for the qualification round. The Faculty’s dean, Anna Voznesenskaya, stressed that the contest gives students an opportunity to develop their personal qualities as well as show off their creative and engineering skills. Professor Evgeny Yakovlev added that laser technologies now play an important role in the industry.

The qualification round’s participants show their skills of working with laser systems and materials. According to the competition’s criteria, high-class specialists should be able to not only assemble laser systems, but also conduct adjusting and startup procedures, perform maintenance and program the equipment. They also have to know about the different materials so as to make the work process as safe and effective as possible. During the qualification round, they’ve worked with stainless steel, aluminum, plywood, resins and the like; each student was supervised by an individual curator.

The tasks included manufacturing control panels, marking metals and other substances, creating items with a complex outline and mock-ups of details requiring layer assembly, as well as producing seals made of eco-resin. The participants got their tasks the moment they were to start with them, after mandatory safety training. The jury assessed not just the tasks’ results, but also the young specialists’ approach to the work process. For instance, how well-versed they are in different kinds of equipment, how well they can plan their work or save materials.

According to the competition’s winner, all of its tasks were really interesting, the hardest part being having to compete with his colleagues.

“If we’re talking technical issues, the most complex task was the one on color laser beam marking. Me and some other participants spent about an hour on choosing the laser’s operational mode. Yet, after you get the colors right, you really feel this sense of accomplishment. Actually, as we were provided with limited materials, the feeling we got when producing our end details was something unique. Surely, you are ready to fuss over it then. As for me, I got the color marking and the control panel best. My worst “creation” was the layer assembly model. We had to do a five-layer construction from plywood and assemble it. I used stilts, and calculating the tension proved really hard, so the plywood started to split. Yet the construction still passed the crash-test. I also really liked working in AutoCAD, which was a great discovery for me: I never knew it would be this enticing, even though most things that have to do with laser technologies are usually fun,” comments Yaroslav Golubev.

Yaroslav Golubev

As part of his training for the national round, Yaroslav is planning to study all kinds of materials, try the various operational modes of the equipment, as well as do something he just hadn’t had the time for during the recent contest - a huge color palette.

“I really want to take a look at such a beauty. Hopefully we have enough materials and equipment at our department. I believe all of the contest’s participants were worthy of being victors, one can easily tell as much based on their results alone. As for me, I just was the most stable one, didn’t make any serious mishaps. For instance, I’m sure that Ekaterina Grachkova made a better resin seal, and Pavel Varlamov created a better control panel,” adds the qualification round's winner.

He underlined that such an experience is to be had by as many students as possible, as force-majeure circumstances allow them to learn really fast. When you have only 16 hours to etch and cut plywood, titanium foil, steel, aluminum, cardboard and resin, having made all of the designs from scratch, that makes you remember all you’ve learned. Also, it is a great way to check whether you’ve picked the right career path.

WorldSkills participants at ITMO University

Yaroslav will now advance to the National Finals of WorldSkills Russia, where he will compete with students from many other Russian universities. All in all, the competition will cover 30 competencies, including laser technologies, electronics, automation, mobile robotics, CAD design, floristry and many others.

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