SGTC students recognized by SME, Stratasys for winning at SkillsUSA Additive Manufacturing Competition

Published 1:29 pm Thursday, August 5, 2021

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By Su Ann Bird


AMERICUS – Two South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) Precision Machining and Manufacturing students were recognized by SME and Stratasys for their winning performance at the 2021 Additive Manufacturing Competition, which was conducted as part of the 57th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, which was held virtually for the first time in the event’s history.

Tison Smith of Leesburg, GA and Patrick Hortman of Ellaville, GA captured the Bronze medal in the national Additive Manufacturing competition and were recognized with scholarships along with three high school and two other college teams for receiving top honors in the additive manufacturing competition, created in 2013 by SME and Stratasys.

“This is a tremendous honor for these students, their instructors, and for South Georgia Technical College,” said SGTC President Dr. John Watford.  “Both of these students won Gold Medals in the Georgia SkillsUSA competition and were deemed to be the best of the best in their respective fields in Georgia.  That allowed them to advance to the national stage where each of them further distinguished themselves as some of the best in their fields.”

Dr. Watford added that competitions awards like these validate the hands-on technical education that SGTC provides. “We are preparing individuals for the workforce and these two students like many other SGTC students and graduates are demonstrating they have the top skills to compete state-wide and nationally against the best students in your field,” said Dr. Watford.

SME, the professional association committed to advancing manufacturing and developing a skilled workforce, and global additive manufacturing leader Stratasys helped create the contest to educate high school and postsecondary students about additive manufacturing technologies and its design and to provide them with real-world, hands-on experience that they can apply to a commercial product.

“The skill level and cognitive talents which our student participants bring to the SkillsUSA additive manufacturing competition continue to improve every year,” said Robert Willig, executive director and CEO of SME. “Their abilities, coupled with the creative problem-solving nature of the contest, will better help prepare them with the knowledge and experience they’ll need to successfully compete in the current and future manufacturing workforce.”

In addition to the additive manufacturing competition, students took Tooling U-SME’s Additive Manufacturing Fundamentals Certification exam to test their knowledge of additive manufacturing. This certification is ideal for high schools and colleges as a capstone or standalone achievement to increase workforce readiness in this market.

“Stratasys is honored to partner with SME on the Skills USA Additive Manufacturing contest as we feel it is our responsibility as industry leaders to guide and challenge the next generation of designers, engineers and manufacturing leaders,” said Jesse Roitenberg, Americas education manager for Stratasys. “These leaders of tomorrow are experiencing learning in a manner that can’t be transferred any other way.”

For the additive manufacturing challenge, students were required to design a smart speaker, called a “pebble,” using a set geometry that then was printed by Stratasys on one of its commercial Stratasys J55 Prime 3D polymeric printers. The teams were required to leverage color, material and finish in a meaningful way. Bonus points were added for a pebble that was not just beautiful but touched on functionality as well.

Both levels of the winning teams received gold, silver and bronze medals from SkillsUSA, as well as scholarships of $1,500, $1,000 and $500, respectively, from the SME Education Foundation. Both levels also received a one-year subscription for Tooling U-SME classes, RAPID + TCT conference passes, and a one-year SME student membership. Gold-medal winning teams won a professional-grade Mojo 3D printer as well.

South Georgia Technical College Smith and Hortman were the only individuals from Georgia recognized in this national competition.  The High School team winners were from Nebraska, Alabama and Maryland.  The college winners were from Alabama, Wyoming and South Georgia Technical College in Georgia.

    In all, more than 6,500 career and technical education students – all SkillsUSA state contest winners – competed in 103 different hands-on trade, technical and leadership fields during the national conference.

SGTC is currently accepting applications for Fall Semester for the Precision Machining and Manufacturing program as well as the other over 200 associate degree, diploma and technical certificate of credit programs of study at the Americus and Crisp County Center campus.  For more information about the Precision Machining and Manufacturing program contact SGTC instructor Chad Brown at or 229-931-2573.

Fall semester begins Wednesday, August 18.  An in-person registration and orientation day is scheduled for Monday, August 16 at 9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the John M. Pope Center in Americus and at 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Crisp County Center.  For more information about applying visit or contact the admissions office at 229-931-2394 in Americus or 229-271-4040 in Cordele.