M State Automotive student is a SkillsUSA champ

July 8, 2022

MOORHEAD, Minn. – M State student Madyan Khidir is ranked fourth in the nation among his peers in Automotive Service Technology after an impressive performance at the 2022 SkillsUSA Championships, the largest competition in the country for career and technical education students.

The championships were held June 22-23 in Atlanta as part of the week-long annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. The championships brought together more than 6,500 students from schools in all 50 states to compete in one or more of 108 contest categories.

Khidir competed in the Automotive Service Technology category, placing fourth overall out of 28 entrants from two-year and four-year colleges. In a test of skill, knowledge and speed, he and the other entrants worked against the clock and each other to complete 12 hands-on challenges relevant to careers in the industry.

“It was very challenging, very difficult,” Khidir said of the competition. “But I enjoyed every second of it.”

A student in M State’s Automotive Service Technology program, Khidir advanced to the national competition after placing first in the Automotive Service Technology category at the SkillsUSA Minnesota State Championships, held in early April. Isaiah Specht, who is also a student in the M State program, competed at the state level in that same category, and placed third.

Khidir and Specht were among 286 students competing in 52 different trade, technical and leadership events at the state event.

“Competing and being able to win state competition, and win at a national level, speaks volumes about a program’s ability — and about the quality of the students,” said Scott Ripplinger, an Automotive Technology faculty member at M State. “We like to see students achieve their potential, and I think this is one of those cases where that’s happened. It’s a matter of teaching to the students’ strengths and allowing them to achieve their full ability. The students don’t get there by themselves — it takes everybody, the whole organization.”

Ripplinger attended the national conference and championships with Khidir. He described the event as “exceptional” in size and scope. Run with the help of industry leaders, trade associations and labor organizations from across the country, the conference offers an abundance of opportunity for learning and networking — and it’s huge, occupying a space equivalent to more than 20 football fields.

M State Automotive Technology faculty member Scott Ripplinger and M State Automotive Service Technology student Madyan Khidir were in Atlanta in late June for the 2022 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, where Khidir competed in the SkillsUSA Championships and took fourth place in the Automotive Service Technology contest. He had previously taken first place in that category in the Minnesota state championship. (Photo by Scott Ripplinger, M State)
M State Automotive Technology faculty member Scott Ripplinger, left, and student Madyan Khidir, in Atlanta  for the 2022 SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. (Photo by Scott Ripplinger, M State)

“Many large national companies were on hand to introduce the latest technologically-advanced products and trends that will help drive the trades industry and form future students,” Ripplinger said. “We were able to connect with many manufacturers and were introduced to some newly-released products that will impact the future of our automobiles.”

Khidir said he would “definitely” return to the event again in the future if given the opportunity.

“I got to meet most of the industry ‘giants’ that were there, and also got to meet people from every state in the U.S.,” he said. “It was a great experience.” 

Khidir, a Moorhead resident and graduate of Moorhead High School, recently received his Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Service Technology from M State and is now taking additional courses at the college. He plans to eventually transfer to a four-year university to obtain a bachelor’s degree in automotive engineering.

The M State Automotive Service Technology program, he said, “is a great gateway to get your foot into the door of the industry. It gives you what you need, and you can go anywhere from there.”

The program is widely recognized as a high quality and affordable pathway to gainful employment for its students. The Washington Monthly college guide’s most recent list of the “Best and Worst” college vocational programs in the U.S., released in 2018, ranked the M State program in the No. 4 spot on the “Best” list.

Working from the Moorhead campus’s state-of-the-art Transportation Center, students are trained in the diagnosis, repair and preventative maintenance of cars and trucks. The program offers a 66-credit diploma option, or 72-credit AAS degree.

As a member of the Minnesota State system, M State serves more than 8,000 students in credit courses each year in over 80 career and liberal arts programs online and at its campuses in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Wadena. By partnering with communities, the college also provides workforce development services and other responsive training programs.

M State Automotive Service Technology students Madyan Khidir, left, and Isaiah Specht were both top performers in the 2022 SkillsUSA Minnesota State Championships, held in early April. Khidir took first place, and Specht took third.
M State Automotive Service Technology students Madyan Khidir, left, and Isaiah Specht were top performers in their category at the 2022 SkillsUSA Minnesota State Championships in early April. Khidir took first place, and Specht took third.