May 25, 2017
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Aspiring architect from Wilmot has sights set on designing a national championship



WILMOT — Three-time SkillsUSA architectural drafting state champion Nico Conigliaro, a senior at Wilmot Union High School, is literally making plans for his future.

There is only one design element left to decide.

“I’m not sure if I should go into residential or commercial,” the aspiring architect said.

Nico, who will attend the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, recently took the state title in the architectural drafting division for a third consecutive year at the SkillsUSA Madison event.

He will advance to the national contest in June, held in Louisville, Ky. In 2015 and 2016, he placed 11th and seventh, respectively, at nationals.

“It is super rare that we have a student who has performed at such a high level for three years in a row,” said Brent Kindred, state director for SkillsUSA. “I cannot express how special and talented this student is.”

Kindred said the contest is set to industry standards in an effort to help develop the future workforce.

“The contest is meant to demonstrate what it takes to be career-ready in this field,” Kindred said.

Cold design

Nico said he never knows in advance what he will have to design.

“I walk in at 8:15 a.m. and it has to be done by 3 o’clock,” he said of the contest.

Contestants are handed a packet with a list of specifications. For the state contest, Nico had to design a living space out of an old warehouse. He was not able to move certain doors, windows and mechanicals. It was a two-story space, with no pre-existing second floor. The design had to include a floor plan, interior elevations and a detail of a cabinet wall section, in addition to the overall design.

“We had to turn it into a modern, upscale condo/loft,” he said, adding he used a computer drafting program. “I had about a half-hour left to print and prepare the blueprints.”

In previous years, the contest challenged participants to design:

n One unit of a quad-plex.n A 1,500-square-foot home with a tornado-proof room.n A 1,600-square-foot, Frank Lloyd Wright-style home that meets Americans with Disability Act standards.

But his favorite was when they handed him a blank slate.

“You have to know the codes,” he said, adding there is also a written knowledge exam as part of the contest.

In the family

Nico, son of Nic and Wendy Conigliaro, said working with his father, a local builder, has also helped him hone his skills.

“I get to work with him on the drawings,” Nico said.

But, on competition day, there is no collaborating. The final product is something that could easily be submitted to a local planning board for concept approval.

At Wilmot, Nico has taken an introductory level drafting class as well as a Project Lead the Way civil engineering and architecture class. He said participating in SkillsUSA has helped him further explore his passion.

“When my teacher Cole Marshall told me about Skills USA, I decided to try it out,” Nico said. “I loved it.”


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