Australian WorldSkills Refrigeration and Air Conditioning champion Patrick Brennan has travelled to Kazan with a select group of fellow Skillaroos to compete in the Russian national WorldSkills tournament. The trip was organised as preparation for the upcoming International WorldSkills tournament, to be held in Kazan in August.
WorldSkills Russia, now in its seventh year, was held from May 20–24 at the Kazan Expo International Exhibition Centre. It is the country’s biggest competition for professional excellence among students of vocational schools (aged 16–22), and secondary schools (aged 14–16). Across 26 skills, more than 1,500 competitors from different Russian regions took part, as well as international representatives from 26 other countries.
The exercise was invaluable for Brennan, who was travelling outside Australia for the first time. It was a chance to familiarise himself with local conditions, and to test his mettle once again against top competitors in his category.
Brennan’s trainer Carl Balke also travelled to Kazan, and says that overcoming the language barrier was one of the big challenges.
“A number of technical terms didn’t translate easily into English,” he says. “And the use of Russian standards for work practices and assessment saw many long discussions to clarify the requirements.”
The competition kicked off with a three-hour speed challenge of two copper coils to be fabricated and submitted for assessment.
This was followed in the afternoon by an electrical and refrigeration fault-find. Competitors had to recover the refrigerant charge, evacuate the system, commission it fully and complete a performance capacity calculation.
On days two and three, competitors had to install and commission a complete refrigeration system.
After a difficult start, Brennan finished strongly. He placed third overall, against three Russians (vying for one national spot), as well as competitors from China and Chinese Taipei.
“Considering that we travelled 20-plus hours to a strange country with a different language, tools and equipment and the pressure to do well, this is a good result,” says Balke.
“Meeting and having a technical interaction with the international deputy chief expert for refrigeration and other international experts gave Patrick an introduction to WorldSkills internationals and a chance to experience what the Kazan competition will be like.
“We still have aspects to improve upon in the days of training left, but he is better placed to take on Kazan in August.”