2004 National Champions


Front Row L to R Gold-Francesco Desensi and Chris Brack, A.W. Beattie Technical School (PA), Gold-Brandy Thatcher and Susan Neff, Illinois Central College (IlL); Silver-Alex Barella and Andrew J Heiser, Chapel Hill High School (NC). Back row L to R: Gold-William Fox, A.W. Beattie Technical School (PA), Gold – Raymond Jeske, Illinois Central College (IL); Back Row Center Phil Ledgewood, World Organization of Webmasters (WOW). Not pictured-the high school bronze medalist team from Mingus Union High School (AZ)-Lee Gaines, Chris Robinson and Andrew Hunt.

Illinois Central College of East Peoria, Illinois won the National Web design competition Gold Medal award in the college division and AW Beattie area Vocational and Technical school Allegheny County, PA. won the Gold Medal at the high school division

The World Organization of Webmasters joined SkillsUSA in sponsoring competition designed to enable high school and college students to collaborate on a Web design project, to demonstrate skills and gain knowledge of employers’ needs.

Teams of students learned first hand the value and future of Web design, thanks to an event sponsored by the World Organization of Webmasters (WOW) as part of the 40 th annual SkillsUSA Championships. The Web design competition was the newest addition to the national championships held June 24, 2004 in Kansas City.

Aimed at public high school, postsecondary college and technical students who are enrolled in instructional programs for trade, technical, and skilled service professions, the Championships attracted more than 4,000 competitors in 77 hands-on skill and leadership contests. In addition to the Web design segment, events included demonstrations from architectural drafting to culinary arts to health services.

The Web design event challenged high school and college students to work in teams to build Web sites for a nonprofit agency. Participants documented their progress as they demonstrated their skills in Web Programming (HTML, XHTML and CSS), Web graphics, Web site design and usability, Web site management, project management, Web multimedia and legal issues.

“Competing and winning gold at SkillsUSA National championships has been an unforgettable experience. I can’t think of a more rewarding experience than having my skills recognized by WOW. It will have a strong influence on my professional career.” Brandy Thatcher, Illinois Central College East Peoria, Illinois. First place winner, College division.

Mark DuBois, Associate Professor of the Business and Information Department of Illinois Central College, said, “The National Web Design competition developed by WOW and offered by the SkillsUSA provides students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a vendor neutral setting. I believe our association with WOW…and SkillsUSA…has provided our students with a rich set of opportunities not available elsewhere,” he added.

The World Organization of Webmasters (WOW) is a nonprofit professional organization dedicated to the support of individuals and organizations, which create, manage or market Web sites. WOW provides education as well as certification, technical, employment and member advantage services to thousands of aspiring and practicing Web professionals worldwide.

SkillsUSA, which sponsors the annual Championships, is a national organization serving more than a quarter-million high school and college students and professional members in training programs in technical, skilled and service occupations. SkillsUSA provides education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. SkillsUSA adds contests to the annual Championships to meet the demands of new and expanding occupations. More than 140 different occupational areas are represented by SkillsUSA-affiliated instructional programs.

Bill Cullifer, executive director of WOW, said, “SkillsUSA and WOW collaborated on the national Web design contest to introduce students to design, development and employability skills employers seek.” Prizes awarded to the winning teams were generously donated by Adobe, Macromedia, Microsoft and WOW.

Cullifer said, “The Web design contest is certainly a demonstration of the benefit of integrating real life experience into education and training. The contest gave participants a chance to work collaboratively among team members and to create Web sites with best practices that meet client’s needs and Web standards in mind.”

“Incorporating Web standards into the design and development process not only results in more accessible and compliant web sites but standards-based designs have been proven to improve the quality of user experience and increase ROI,” said Molly E. Holzschlag, Steering Committee Member, The Web Standards Project (WaSP) and Advisor to WOW.

“For the site visitor, the pages load more quickly and smoothly, and for the client, the costs of development, bandwidth, storage and site maintenance decrease by an average of about 50%,” she added. “What’s more, using standards gives us a framework for creating best-practices within our organizations, streamlining the development process and reducing frustration within project teams.”

A May 15, 2004 article surveying e-commerce in The Economist, points out that, “…the Internet is profoundly changing consumer behaviour.” Customers are researching purchases online before walking into a retail store.”

* That means that Websites must appeal to the customer. The contest helped students key into that important factor, and to design a site in a non-threatening, learning environment.

* Other goals of the contest included the following:

* To promote and increase awareness of opportunities in the Web profession;

* To emphasize the value of educational programs in the marketplace – educational programs such as those developed by WOW in partnership with many key technology companies, colleges and high schools;

* To emphasize the importance of vendor neutrality in technology education and to find middle ground among technology corporations such as Microsoft, Adobe, Macromedia and others;

* To focus on the importance of instructor education, training and certification;

* To communicate the importance of standards and their justifications in the business community; and

Bill Cullifer, WOW Executive Director and National Web Design Technical Committee Chair debriefing contestants at the conclusion of the event

One criteria of the contest was for students to successfully complete the WOW Certified Web Designer Associate exam. The certification exams are based on industry-identified core competencies in both general and specific areas of practice. Businesses benefit because they have a benchmark from which to compare and measure and evaluate employees’ Web skills for roles within an organization.

Cullifer explained that WOW partners with industry giants including Cisco Systems Inc., to promote vendor neutral training and education. Other supporters of WOW’s exam process are the U.S. Department of Education and many high schools, colleges and universities worldwide.

Cullifer explained the contest, classes and certifications are designed “to help people succeed in a very competitive marketplace and earn a good salary. Working together with industry, education and government, WOW is helping people get what I hope is a meaningful job.”


Nathaniel B from Frederick, MD shared his reasons for participating: “I am currently enrolled (Cisco Fundamentals of Web Design) in this awesome class. I thought I knew a lot about web design but I’ve learned that to make effective and professional looking website that it has to be clear and easy to use. Even though there is a lot of homework, it’s worth it. The software we use is very good and lets you get a sense of all the aspects of web design.

When I’m done taking this class, I am going to take the (WOW) Web Design Apprentice (CWDSA) certification exam. Then, make money on the side working in a web design office next year and during college. This will probably fund all my college tuition.”

Gabriel Ruiz, Instructor Border Institute of Technology, El Paso Texas shares his views on participation:

“The contest was a great opportunity for the students. The students learned the importance of creating a website to meet the needs of the customer not just to their personal taste. Students also learned from the real life experience of working