Joshua Patterson, 18, still gets nervous, even after two years of drafting competitions. The feeling kicked in a few days before the event and built up through the trip to San Diego, where six Lodi High School students were competing in the California State SkillsUSA Leadership and Skills Championship, a drafting skills competition.
Once he stepped inside the Town and Country Convention Center, Patterson's focus overpowered his nerves.
"Just sit down and do what you've been taught to do," he said. "You have to just get down to the fundamentals of learning."
Patterson studied a small metal mounting bracket. His task was to replicate that piece as a 3D model on the computer in front of him, then create two-dimensional prints of that model. The final step was to alter the dimensions to make his design ready for manufacturing.
Afterward, he said it was a pretty simple challenge. And he performed well, earning first place.
That achievement allows Patterson to represent California at the National SkillsUSA Leadership Conference and Skills Championships.
He'll head to Kansas City in late June for a much bigger challenge. There, Patterson will have to remake multiple parts of a tool while competing against the best technical drafters in the nation.
"I'm really interested to see what they expect of me at nationals," he said.
Patterson was selected to compete by drafting teacher Paul Guthrie. He enrolled in a basic drafting class as a sophomore to qualify for the Science and Engineering Academy of Lodi, a small learning community at the school, and grew to like the subject. As a junior and senior, Patterson returned for the more advanced drafting courses.
After high school, Patterson wants to work as an engineer and can't wait to put his drafting skills to work.
"The main thing is the 3D modeling aspects," he said. "It's an extremely useful skill if you're going into engineering."