Sparks flying: Heritage High welders take top marks in local competition

Heritage High School took home bragging rights and some cool prizes recently when the Mountaineer welding students took on the William Blount High School welding class at their annual competition at DCS Electronics and Fab Shop.

Cecil Yearwood, Fab Shop supervisor, said the event changed this year as students were allowed to declare which type of welding they wanted to compete in.

“There were those who declared for Gas Metal Arc welding, and those who declared for Shielded Metal Arc welding and competed in that category,” Yearwood said.

There were about 25 students representing the schools. This was the second year that DCS had hosted the event at their facility on Big Springs Road. In the years before the competition alternated between the two high schools.

“We brought it out of the classroom setting and into the manufacturing setting,” said Yearwood. “That made it a more level playing field. We’re trying to get them to better understand what they will be doing in the field.”

Yearwood said that after he retired from Y-12 in Oak Ridge and came on board at DCS, owner Chris Combs asked him to get involved with the welding programs at the schools. “We have hired several students right out of high school to work here and we wanted to get involved with them to get them more training up front so they would be more job-ready when they came to places like DCS,” Yearwood said. “I’ve been working with instructors at William Blount High School and Heritage High School to put things together for them, and we’re also going to work with Pellissippi State.”

Yearwood said DCS goes so far as to provide pallets of scrap metal for the students at William Blount and Heritage high schools and Pellissippi State Community College to use to practice.

Yearwood said a committee made up of Combs, designer Will Wolfenbarger and three AirGas representatives - Glenn Streno, Dave Wrobleski and Mark Rivera -- came up with the idea to recruit sponsors for the annual spring competition.

“It was a spur of the moment thing, but we raised about $2,000 and gave each school $1,000 to buy things like welding rods, helmets, gloves and gas they need to help the students.”

Sponsors for the competition include AirGas, Clayton Homes, Pilot Oil, Vulcan Materials, American Welding Society, Cecil and Brenda Yearwood and DCS Electronic and Fab Shop.

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