When Kansas SkillsUSA gathered in Wichita earlier this year, they had a special award for Ron Downing, associate professor of automotive technology. The group honored Downing with a hand-crafted trophy and an honorary life membership in the organization, which is a career and technical organization with more than 300,000 members.

The award recognizes Downing for nearly four decades of service to the organization. He was able to serve as the national automotive service technology
expert for World Skills during this time and watch his students win numerous national awards and hold top leadership posts.

Downing taught at Lamar (Mo.) Area Technical School for 24 years before joining the PSU Automotive Technology faculty in 1996.

At PSU, Downing helped restart the campus SkillsUSA chapter. From 1997 through 2002, PSU automotive students won three gold and three silver national medals in the college division. In 2002, PSU stepped away from the competition to take over management of the state automotive contest, with Downing as chairman, and many of the PSU automotive faculty being involved, as well. In 2011, the chairman’s position was turned back over to industry so PSU students would have the chance to compete again.

In 2001, Downing was selected as World Skills expert for automotive technology. In four world skills competitions, the U.S. won three silver medals and one fifth place finish. PSU graduates Rusty Brown and Jack Frederick both won silver medals, and best-in-nation awards in 2003 and 2009.