New VU alum shines in national machining competition

New VU alum shines in national machining competition

Three males holding up their medals.

July 14, 2023

VINCENNES, Ind. - Months after winning a global machining competition with his Vincennes University classmates, Nate Conrad shined in a national competition.

Nate Conrad

The Spring 2023 Precision Machining Technology graduate won a bronze medal at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Skills USA empowers students preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations.

"I definitely learned a lot about the processes that I'll be using in the future at jobs I may have, and it allowed me to meet many cool people from all over the country," Conrad said. "I felt really good about how I competed. I'm happy that I was able to place on the podium."

Against tough competitors from across the United States, Conrad challenged himself during the weeklong event at the end of June. He showcased the skills he will need in his new career as a CNC machinist with Conturo Prototyping in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Competitions like these are excellent opportunities to provide VU students with a practical application of what they have learned in the classroom and to advance their technical skills.

"This is an impressive achievement," College of Technology Dean Ty Freed said. "Participation in competitions has fantastic benefits. It offers opportunities for students to improve their social skills and network. It also builds confidence in students and encourages them to excel."

Nate Conrad uses a CNC machine to make a skateboard.
Conrad machining a skateboard on campus. 

Conrad, who is from Valley City, Ohio, finished third in the CNC 2-Axis Turning Programmer college division.

"I created a CNC program for manufacturing a lathe part from work instructions and an engineering drawing," he said.

Conrad graduated summa cum laude from VU in April with an associate degree in Precision Machining Technology. Earlier this year, he was one-third of the winning trio of VU students who won the Mastercam Wildest Parts Competition. Their innovative and fun electric skateboard placed first ahead of second and third-place teams from Taiwan.

VU's Precision Machining Technology program has a nearly 100 percent graduation placement rate, and starting salaries for VU graduates average in the $40,000 to $50,000 range or higher. 

Learn more about Precision Machining Technology degrees. Explore the College of Technology.