22.08.2018 | Joel Flepp has qualified for SwissSkills 2018.
The 19-year old automation technician apprentice at Axpo Hydro Surselva has qualified for the SwissSkills Championship. From 12 to 15 September he will be competing against five teams in his category. We wanted to know how he's doing before the competition.
Joel, congratulations on qualifying for SwissSkills 2018. From 12 to 16 September you get to compete in the championship. What was your reaction when you got the good news?
I was just having lunch with a colleague. It was a Thursday at the beginning of June. Then my mother called me. She saw the envelop in the mail and opened it right away. I was very happy to hear the news. The intense preparation paid off.
I can imagine. Qualifying for the SwissSkills Championship is quite an achievement. What's the qualification process like?
The automation technician category is the only one where you compete in pairs. Before the two selection processes, I had to decide whether I would rather make software or hardware. I decided on software. Then I was assigned a partner to take over the hardware part. Luckily the professional association Swissmem put me in touch with the automation technician apprentice Dominic Cadruvi from Hamilton. I have known him since the first apprentice year when we were together in the basic course at Emax.
So, it was easy for the two of you to get together regularly to prepare.
That's right. We started meeting at least once a week at his workplace in Bonaduz to prepare before the first selection in January and the second selection in May. We also attended several courses and practised on various Festo systems.
The first competitions start on 12 September. How will you prepare?
I am spending most of my time in the apprentice workshop at Emax in Domat/Ems to prepare. The workshop has several systems manufactured by Axpo, Hamilton and Emax. I practice on these. While Dominic was on summer holidays I concentrated on programming. Now we are working together and training for speed. In the competition we will be racing against the clock.
You and Dominic were selected from 66 automation technicians in the first, and from 24 in the second round. Now you are among the twelve to compete. What do you expect at SwissSkills?
If only I knew [laughs]! We will have to compete in various rounds with different time limits. The six-hour competition is the longest one and there are two of those. We will be given individual parts that Dominic will have to assemble and I will have to programme the software. In the week around mid-September we will also have a three-hour, a two-hour and two one-hour competitions.
You are an automation technician apprentice at Axpo Hydro Surselva. What are the tasks of an automation technician?
Since my second apprentice year I have been working closely with the electrical engineers at the power plant. We take care of catchment maintenance. At the moment I am working on a project for a new cooling water valve for one of the generators in Ilanz.
You live in the lovely village of Curaglia in the Grisons. What do you like to do in your free-time?
During the summer I like to ride my mountain bike: up the road and down the hiking trail. In the winter I ski. That's a must with all these mountains [laughs].
Joel, thanks very much for the interview. We will cross our fingers for you at SwissSkills 2018.
From the Axpo Group, Joel ist not the only one qualified for SwissSkills. The IT apprentice Julian Schmuckli from Avectris will also compete in his category at the Swiss Championships in mid-September.
Good preparation and good luck at the SwissSkills!
In addition to the automation technician apprenticeship, Axpo also offers the following apprenticeships: IT Specialist, Polymechanic, Cook, Construction Insulator, Electrical Planner, etc.
You will find more information about apprenticeships at Axpo on the website.