Lanier Technical College student Daniel Blackstone won first place in state at the Skills USA Championship competition in Dublin this past April.
Blackstone, who has been an Automotive Technology student at the Dawsonville campus of Lanier Tech for the past year and a half, bested 10 competitors from technical schools across the state, earning the opportunity to compete at the national level competition in Kansas City, Mo. last month. He placed sixteenth in the nation.
“For someone of his young age and level of experience to compete against students who have been in automotive technology programs longer than he has, it’s quite an accomplishment,” said Lanier Tech Automotive Technology Instructor Chris Cooper.
Cooper entered the 21 year-old Blackstone in the competition.
Blackstone described the competition as a nerve-racking experience that only intensified when he reached the nationwide competitive level.
“I was really nervous. You feel intimidated by the level of experience that’s represented there. Working with equipment that you’re not familiar with adds to the difficulty,” said Blackstone, who currently works as an auto dealership mechanic while completing Lanier Tech’s typically two-year long automotive technology course.
Blackstone said he was very encouraged by his victory at the state level and by how well he did at the national competition.
He added that he hopes to continue to learn as much as he can in the field of automotive mechanics and dreams of one day being able to build his own engines for race teams.
“That’s what interests me the most, designing and building an engine from the ground up and improving on its performance,” said Blackstone.
Blackstone also contributes his success to several influential people in his life.
“I want to thank Mr. Cooper for picking me to represent the school and my dad for teaching me everything that I know about mechanics up until I got into school. And my mom for encouraging me to go to school in the first place,” said Blackstone.
Cooper said Blackstone’s success has been a major source of pride for him as well.
“I actually competed in the same competition when I was in high school.
“So to now be an instructor and have an exceptionally talented student like him win the state and go on to nationals, it’s just a big push for me as an educator and gives me a lot of encouragement. I hope to be able to do this every year,” said Cooper.
For more information about Lanier Technical College’s Automotive Technology program, visit www.laniertech.edu or call the Dawsonville campus at (706) 216-5461.
E-mail Adam C. Stapleton at email@example.com.