WorldSkills Asia held their first web design and development competition in late November, 2018 in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates). I was the invited U.S. Expert; this was a great training opportunity for our 2019 WorldSkills Web Design and Development competitor, Matt Vreman. That competition will be held in Kazan, Russia in August, 2019. In addition to preparation for that competition by learning more about industry best practices and current frameworks, Matt also needed to experience the “joys” of jet lag and many cultural differences as part of his training. He also needed to test his current knowledge and skills against likely competitors in Kazan. This was a great opportunity to enhance his training. After the experience, I interviewed him about his experiences. This is the interview (a transcript follows the interview itself). Captions are automatically displayed since this is mostly an audio interview.
Here is the transcript of the above interview. Interviewer [Mark DuBois], interviewee [Matt Vreman].
[Mark] Today I have the honor and privilege of interviewing Matt Vreman. Matt competed as the U.S. competitor in WorldSkills Asia in Abu Dhabi. This was their first web design and development competition that happened at the end of November, 2018.
Matt, I’m wondering if you could take a little time and describe your experience to our listeners about this competition.
[Matt] Yeah, sure, so it was it was a great experience first of all. It was the first time I’ve ever traveled outside the U.S. So it was quite an experience specifically for that reason, to begin with.
It was an amazing week and I had a great time. The competition was a couple days; it was a three day competition. I had a great time and learned a lot I was extremely challenged. The competition was both client side and server side.
[Mark] Could you touch a little on on both aspects because there were different days with different emphasis.
[Matt] Sure. The first day of the competition was about CMS. It was a CMS based module it was using WordPress and there were several different challenges included in that module; including setting up WordPress, developing a child theme, developing a couple plugins and a couple other things as well. That was the CMS module of day one.
The third day was server side; I had to use some different server languages as well as a client side languages to create a routing system for a local map of Abu Dhabi using bus routes and train routes to calculate the best route between point a and point b basically.
[Mark] And then you had to display the results using Canvas didn’t you?
[Mark] Overall, you said you learned quite a bit. Touch a little bit on that if you would. What did you learn?
[Mark] I suspect being the first time out of the country this is a bit of a culture shock for you as well.
[Matt] Absolutely, yeah. Before this my travel experience was just the USA. But Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates is quite a bit different from the US. To understate it slightly, so it was it was pretty interesting. The biggest not really issue but the biggest shock was just the simple language barrier. I speak English and that’s it. Whereas most of the other/ staff at the expo center spoke Arabic and not very much English.
And then course, all the other competitors from different Asian countries spoke their native languages and not all of them spoke much English as to be expected so it was it was interesting to a kind of experience that and try and figure out. It is interesting how easy it turned out to be to communicate with just simple hand gestures and pointing at things.
[Mark] Definitely. It’s always good to experience different cultures and I think this is one of the neat aspects of being a part of the our national web design competition is you can go on to WorldSkills and compete internationally which I think is pretty impressive in and of itself. Obviously congratulations on your achievementsand being a part of this. I’m curious what advice you would give to of those that are thinking about entering web design competitions particularly the ones that’ll be starting soon in March and April 2019.
What advice would you give to those that are are thinking about it?
[Matt] Do it. I mean there isn’t much. There isn’t really any downsides to doing a competition. You get to challenge yourself by competing against other brilliant people in your field and a it’s a great experience, just the competition itself. Trying to challenge yourself to do a lot of work in a short amount of time; that’s that’s the job.
[Mark] That’s a very good insight and I think the idea to just do it is something that we often overlook these days.
[Matt] It is a great way to test your mettle; it’s a great way to test which are really know and it’s a great opportunity to meet others and perhaps establish some lifelong friendships, network that sort of thing.
[Mark] Congratulations on that Matt. I appreciate your insights on all of this and best of luck to you in Kazan. That’s going to be happening sooner than we think.