Welding competition sparks interest of students

William Blount High School beat out their cross-town rivals Heritage High School in their annual year-end welding competition on March 12. The final score was close: 2,226 to 2,221.

It was the third year for the event and welding teacher John Davis said the students always get excited about the competition. “They look forward to this all year long,” he said. “We have 15 students from each of school competing in different processes.”

Davis said this is the only opportunity for all students in the SkillsUSA classes to compete. “No matter what, everyone scores points for the team,” Davis said. “This serves as a warm up for region and state competition.”

Davis said this is the third year for the competition between Heritage and William Blount high schools and Heritage High School has won the past two. The students continue to improve from year to year. “The welds look better,” he said.

Davis said he enjoys watching the competition between the schools grow. “Possibly scholarships could be offered,” he said.

Prizes for the students from AirGas and other sponsor included gloves, safety glasses and other welding supplies.

David Wrobleski of AirGas said the event is good for the students. “The average age of a worker is 55 so there’s going to be a huge shortage soon,” he said. “It’s just a very good thing.”

Students get the chance to learn more about the trade and the opportunities that are available. “It’s good pay,” he said.

Mark Rivera, account manager with AirGas, said the competition was very important for the company. “These are our future customers,” he said.

Taylor Robinson, 17, a senior from Heritage High School said it was a fun experience to come and compete with another school. “It’s a fun thing to do,” Robinson said.

Ayla Branton, 16, a junior from Heritage High School, said if it weren’t for the competition there wouldn’t be a reason to be in the class. “I want to do it as a job now,” Branton said.

Amanda Beasley, 16, a junior at William Blount High School, said it was a fun experience. “I’m learning how to use a plasma cutter,” she said.

Cody Ward, 19, a senior at William Blount High School, said he enjoys welding. “I’ve been welding since I was 14,” he said. “I’ve always loved working with my hands, and it’s just fun.”

In the Gas Metal Arc competition, the results were: first place - Jacob Montgomery, William Blount High School; second place - Austin Malone, Heritage High School; and third place - Jordan Ester, Heritage High School.

In the Gas Tungsten Arc competition, the results were: first place - Chad Humphrey, Heritage High School; second place - Taylor Robinson, Heritage High School; and third place - Brad Campbell, William Blount High School.

In the Shield Metal Arc competition, the results were: first place - Austin Malone, Heritage High School; second place - Brad Campbell; and third place - Jordan Estes, Heritage High School.

Shielded metal arc is the oldest type of welding still performed. “It’s still widely in use. It’s probably the most commonly known where you’re using electrodes or sticks to perform welding,” Davis said.

Davis said gas metal arc welding is referred to as Mig welding. “It is becoming more prevalent and is more easily automated,” he said. “It doesn’t require as much manual external skill.”

Davis said gas tungsten arc welding offers the most opportunity for students. “When students leave here, if they’re proficient and continue their training, they will make most money,” he said.

Also referred to as Tig welding, it requires the individuals to use a foot to control a pedal that controls the amperage or electricity being used. One hand holds the Tig torch and the other hand is adding filler metal to the weld, Davis said.

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