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WoodLINKS students lighting up competition

Three Halifax County High School students in the WoodLINKS dual enrollment program at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) have been selected to compete in the WoodLINKS USA/International Woodworking Fair (IWF) competition this August. Students in the SVHEC WoodLINKS program have had consecutive entries to this national competition. 

Recent graduate Jared Owen and rising seniors Shonque’l Betts and Dustin Meadors will travel to Atlanta, Georgia for the prestigious woodworking competition focused on the design and marketing of Ready to Assemble (RTA) products. 

To be accepted, Owen, Betts and Meadors had to go through a rigorous application process that included submitting a marketing plan, technical drawings, assembly instructions, a one-page description, a speech and photos. 

The competition was fierce as the selection committee only chooses a handful of applicants to enter the competition. The Halifax County students will be competing against students from across the United States, and will be judged on a combination of their submitted woodworking piece, their written materials and their public speaking abilities.

The students’ competition entry is a unique lamp design called  “Universal Light Bulb.” Shaped like a traditional incandescent light bulb, “Universal Light Bulb” will use an energy-efficient compact florescent light bulb to create an intersection between old and new. 

“The design makes it look like the old light bulb is shedding its skin into new technology,” said senior Jared Owen. 

The students also incorporated the past and present in constructing the lamp. Initial prototypes were developed using classic hand tools, while the finished product was machined on a CNC router--the latest in advanced manufacturing technology. 

“The students developed the first prototype by hand. They assessed, revised, and built a second prototype. They revised again, drew the design in TopSolid CAD program, generated the tool paths, and machined the parts on a CNC router,” said WoodLINKS instructor Clint Johnson.

As the students designed their lamp they not only had to make sure it looked good, but that it could be quickly and easily assembled by someone who knew nothing about the product. 

Owen, Betts, and Meador designed the lamp so that the main body will come pre-assembled so the user only needs to insert the lamps eight “fins” and the three feet that compose the base. When asked how long it would take a novice to put it together Meador confidently answered “less than five minutes.” 

The students are thrilled their work has been accepted into a national competition. “This will be a new experience for us, and we’re humbled that they’ve allowed us into their competition,” said Owen. Meadors echoed, “To be accepted shows they really appreciate hard work. I’m excited about it.”  

“I am also excited about this opportunity for our students,” Johnson said. “Knowing how to design and build something is important, but this competition takes those concepts to another level.  The students are developing skills in teamwork, time management, sales and marketing, and how to connect with their target audience.  These competitions are a great way for the students to promote their school programs, in addition to discovering the vastness of the woodworking industry.  I appreciate the support from our educational partners for enabling the students to participate in programs like this,” he continued.

The dual enrollment WoodLINKS USA program focuses on Product Design and Development and is open to sophomore, junior, and senior students. Community college courses in Product Design & Development, offered in partnership with Danville Community College, are also offered at the SVHEC. 

For more information about the WoodLINKS USA dual enrollment program or the SVHEC Product Design & Development program visit, call 434-572-5505, toll free 1-800-283-0098 ext 5505, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .