On Monday, Tennessee College of Applied Technology faculty and staff celebrated the accomplishment of McMinnville instructor Jacob McGonigle, who won a gold medal at the 2018 SkillsUSA National Championship.
The SkillsUSA National Championship is an annual event showcasing the best career and technical education students in the nation.
In this competition, McGonigle demonstrated skills in fiber and copper cable termination, pulling and mounting cable, cable testing and troubleshooting, and providing customer service.
“There were around 40 other competitors, some who were competing their third time in this competition,” explained McGonigle. “When they called my name, everything else became a blur and I was through the roof.”
Included in McGonigle’s winnings were tablets and tools such as a brand new iPad, $6,000 worth of telecommunication tools, vouchers and free courses to further his education in the field.
Additionally, Electronics Technicians Association, has awarded McGonigle a travel scholarship to represent ETA at the International Wireless Comm-unications Exposition in Las Vegas in March.
“They are presenting all the newest, latest and greatest technology on wireless communication,” explained McGonigle. “It will benefit me greatly as an instructor because in this field, we can’t just stay up to par, we have to stay ahead. We need to know what’s coming so we can prepare for it and teach our students.”
At the recognition held at TCAT McMinnville main campus, vice chancellor Dr. Heidi Leming, presented McGonigle with a certificate to publically recognize his story and achievement.
“It’s not every day that I get to come and recognize what our campuses are doing, especially with former students,” said Leming. “And again, this is a wonderful opportunity for us to encourage others to consider how student success through SkillsUSA may translate to continued support from industry for graduates as they enter the workforce.”
For McGonigle, 28, he began his career as a communications expert in the military upon graduating high school. Afterward, he enrolled at Roane State Community College for a semester before deciding it wasn’t what he wanted.
Shortly after, he enrolled at TCAT Crossville and graduated from its electronics and computer information technology programs.
“I went from someone working jobs paying $8 an hour and it’s not about the money, but the money gives you freedom,” said McGonigle. “Now, I’m an instructor and a business owner. In fact, we’re opening a second location for the first business and coming this summer, I’m starting a telecom business.”