November 5, 2017
By Michael Power
“In the blink of an eye it’s all over.”
That’s how Ryan Matsuba describes the experience of competing with Team Canada in the WorldSkills International Competition. Matsuba won a Medallion of Excellence at the competition, which requires a score of 700 or more out of a possible 800 points.
This year, the competition, which Matsuba describes as like “the Olympics for the trades,” took place in Abu Dhabi, October 14-19. Held every two years, it is the largest vocational skills excellence event in the world. Canadian competitors are selected from the WorldSkills Canada contest, and similar competitions take place in 75 member countries and regions. The international competition boasted 1,300 competitors this year across 50 disciplines.
Matsuba, 22, of Spruce Grove, AB, got involved in the competition when his instructor at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) suggested in 2014 that he compete at the provincial level as a first-year apprentice. He competed again provincially the following year, then at the national level in 2016. He placed second at the national level and was asked to join the national team.
For the world competition in Abu Dhabi, Matsuba, who got his journeyman in refrigeration and air conditioning in June, made a miniature ice rink that included a heat recovery hot water tank. The project also included fabricating the heat recovery coil. He also had to install the components, wire it, do a pressure test, evacuation tests, charge it with refrigerant and commission it.
The project took 17 hours for installation and four hours for troubleshooting. Other skills competition challenges included finding and fixing an electrical fault in an air conditioner and finding and fixing a mechanical fault.
Matsuba placed fifth in the refrigeration and air conditioning category and received a medallion of excellence. There were 23 countries competing in that area.
“It was awesome,” he said of the experience. “I couldn’t say enough good things about Abu Dhabi. I met lots of people and learned a lot.”
Matsuba advises future competitors to have fun since the experience goes by fast. “Enjoy it as much as you can and learn as much as you can,” he said. Matsuba, who is a mechanic at Display Fixtures Refrigeration, plans to help the next competitor prepare for the experience.
“It’s been a great trip and great experience for sure,” he said. “I can’t thank everybody enough.”
The 2019 WorldSkills competition will be held August 29 to September 3 in Kazan, Russia.