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Former Questeq Intern Places Third At SkillsUSA Competition

Photo of Michael taken by Luke Sechrist, CWCTC.

Questeq has both benefited from and helped to grow the hard-working students who have passed through our Summer Internship Program over the years. One such student is Michael Swab, a member of the 2022 graduating class at Hempfield Area School District and the Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center (CTC), a Questeq partner school. Michael had the opportunity to intern with Curtis Smithley, Questeq’s Technology Coordinator, last summer at the CTC. During the 2021-22 school year, he continued to work with Curtis two days each week, benefiting from the CTC’s co-op program.

Mr. Smithley enjoyed mentoring Michael this year and notes, “Giving our interns hands-on experience working with our teachers, staff and administration really helps to prepare them for future work in an information technology career. It was a two-way street working with Michael. He was able to assist me with the daily technology needs of our users and I was able to help him add to his current skill set and knowledge. It was a win-win for everyone involved.”

Michael says he learned a lot from working closely with Mr. Smithley and would recommend participating in internships like this one. “I would highly recommend doing an internship if you have the opportunity. It was a great experience working with Curtis. He knows a lot and being able to learn from him was really valuable.” During his internship and co-op, Michael was able to job shadow Curtis as he implemented complex networking projects, in addition to assisting teaching staff with technology troubleshooting, equipment replacement, imaging, and other end-user support tasks. 


In addition to his school and co-op work this year, Michael studied and prepared for two year-end challenges: The SkillsUSA competition and the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) Exam. SkillsUSA strives to have an “impact on the lives of America’s future workforce through the development of personal, workplace and technical skills that are grounded in academics.” The NOCTI exam tests students on their abilities to perform the skills related to a specific career field. Both the SkillsUSA competition and NOCTI exam require a tremendous amount of knowledge and preparation to excel.

After qualifying at the regional competition earlier in the year, students from CTCs across Pennsylvania came together over three days in April at the SkillsUSA statewide competition. They competed in individual and group categories such as Architectural Drafting, Community Service, Computer Programming, Electronics Technology and Precision Machining. Students in each of these groupings were scored and ranked based on their performance on either written or hands-on assessments.

In the Computer Programming category, Michael placed 3rd overall after receiving an excellent score on the Visual Basic programming language written test. The 2022 awards ceremony was streamed and can be viewed online at Michael was presented his 3rd place award at the 1:09:45 mark.

Michael also did exceptionally well on the NOCTI exam, receiving high marks and earning an Advanced designation on the cumulative test. The NOCTI assessment acts as an exit exam for the CTC students and consists of around 200 written questions and a hands-on portion. It is designed to test students on their knowledge after spending three years learning a specific trade. As some students plan to move directly into their careers after graduation, doing well on the NOCTI exam can set them up for a successful transition into the workforce. You can learn more about NOCTI at

Photo of Michael taken by Luke Sechrist, CWCTC.


Michael plans to attend Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC) for his first two years of post-secondary education. It’s no surprise that his planned field of study at WCCC is Computer Science. In addition to his studies, Michael hopes to intern with either his Alma Mater or WCCC to gain even more experience in the field of Information Technology before joining the workforce full-time.

It seems that great things are ahead for Michael thanks to his aptitude, hard work, hands-on skills training at the CTC and the internship/co-op opportunities he’s had over the last 9 months. We can’t wait to see the positive impact he makes in the world. Congratulations on all your accomplishments, Michael, and we wish you the best in your academics this fall!

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