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Audio Engineering Students Win Gold

Audio Engineering Students Win Gold

Career and Tech Ed students compete, place first at SkillsUSA nationals

Academy at Ward Tech students and teammates James Wicks and Michael Catalanotto earned gold medals in the audio engineering competition at the recent SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, held June 19-23 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Wicks and Catalanotto competed against approximately 20, two-person teams of audio engineering students from across the county. During the two-day challenge, participants first took an audio engineering exam to test their knowledge of equipment and standards, and then were required to create and produce a two-minute, radio news story.

The news segment needed to feature original content, no pre-recorded interviews were permitted, it had to contain two commercials (30- and 60-seconds each), which they also created, and include a bumper, which is a musical transition that is used to segue between spots in radio interviews.

The assigned topic was a public opinion piece about the effects of climate change on the economy. Wicks and Catalanotto recorded interviews from conference attendees and vendors (they were not allowed to interview each other), wrote the script, created the commercials, and used royalty-free music for the bumper.

The Audio Engineering class at Ward Tech has been to Nationals six times and this is their first gold. What’s more, this was the largest audio engineering contest to date. Listen to the Wicks-Catalanotto winning news segment at  

Wicks and Catalanotto are recent high school graduates from Shoreham-Wading River CSD and Eastport-South Manor CSD, respectively, who both plan to attend college in the fall to continue their audio engineering studies and then pursue careers in the industry. Wicks will attend Berklee College of Music in Boston to study audio engineering and music (he is a drummer). His goal is to build a career as an audio engineer.

Catalanotto is headed to SUNY Purchase to study music production and audio engineering. He has a passion for creating EDM (electronic dance music) and will pursue a career in that segment of the music industry with the goal of creating and producing his own original work.

About SkillsUSA

SkillsUSA is national CTE student organization for secondary and post-secondary students, as well as professional members. The annual conference showcases the best CTE students in the nation. Contests begin locally and continue through the states to the national level. This event brings together thousands of students, instructors, and business partners to celebrate those preparing for careers in trade, technical, and skilled service occupations.

About the Academy LI

The Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology, referred to as the Academy, is the Career and Technical Education Program of Eastern Suffolk BOCES and has locations in Bellport, Oakdale, and Riverhead. Ward Tech is located on the Riverhead campus.