Designing his way to the top

Dustin Cook competes in Architectural Drafting in Kansas City.
Jul. 14, 2013 @ 05:24 AM

Dustin Cook is a designing machine.

Cook, member of the SkillsUSA Club at R-S Central High School, recently placed 21st out of 48 in Architectural Drafting at the SkillsUSA National Conference in Kansas City, Mo. June 24-28.

"I had fun and I was happy being in the top half," Cook said.

Cook qualified for nationals when he won first place in Architectural Drafting during the 2013 North Carolina SkillsUSA Conference that was held April 24-26 in Greensboro. For the state competition, he was given a three-and-a-half hour time limit to design a cabin for a youth group. In Kansas City, he had one day to design a house with a tornado shelter, something that is not covered in his classes.

"The way they started out was a portion of the house had a basement in it and then we went on our lunch break and they gave us an addendum to add to the house plan. What they wanted us to do was create a shelter in the basement so if a tornado came through, it was there for cover," Cook said. "It's not a typical thing for us to learn because we don't need them as much. The packet they gave us talked about adding the bomb shelter and gave us details about how it was supposed to work and how the walls needed to be drawn and what the door needed to make sure it was tornado proof."

Cook said his favorite part about the competition was that it was modeled after a real-world scenario. Competitors were told to imagine they had just gotten a job as an architect and this was their first assignment.

"I liked how they made it like a real thing talking about how it's supposed to be a real job and everything. That made it seem like a real assignment and not just a project we were doing," Cook said.

From the nationals experience, he also gained knowledge about different architectural styles across the country.

"The experience made me realize how things work for architecture in different places because the woman who ran our competition, she is actually an architect in Kansas City. She talked to us about her business and the way some things work," Cook said. "It does kind of vary all over the country."

But it wasn't all work for Cook during his time in Kansas City. He and Brad Hutchins, SkillsUSA advisor, also had time for some fun and games. They enjoyed some local cuisine and attended a Major League Baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and the Atlanta Braves.

"The barbecue was my favorite part about the whole thing. In years before when they've gone that's what everyone talks about. It's different and really good," Cook said.

Hutchins, who also taught Cook in his architectural honors class, said he is very impressed with his accomplishments.

"The state of North Carolina only offers students two semesters or one year of Architectural Drafting. So, 21st is very exciting for Dustin, who has only had one year to compete with those students that have taken four years of architectural classes," Hutchins said. "I am very proud of what he has accomplished at R-S Central and he has a very bright future."

Cook, who graduated from R-S Central in May, is planning to attend Wayne Community College in Goldsboro in the fall. He is still undecided on a career path but said he may pursue engineering.