Area students test welding skills at Hodde Center competition

Washington County Weld-Off held Wednesday

Washington County Weld-Off held Wednesday

October 24, 2019

Hundreds of area high school students tested their welding skills Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the Washington County Weld-Off hosted by Brenham ISD and the Blinn College District’s A.W. Hodde, Jr. Technical Education Center.

Approximately 210 students from 29 high schools took part the competitions, which included several different welding techniques, a team project to construct a grill/fire pit, and a written test.

John McGee, a welding instructor at the Hodde Center, said the competition was designed to use “different levels of welding, all based on real welds that are used in the industry.”

“We wanted to make this as realistic as possible,” McGee said. “In welding, practice is what brings you to the top of your game. So for these kids to have an opportunity to all come together and compete school by school, it’s really no different from football or baseball or any other sport. If you’re going to be good, you have to be competitive.”

Certified welding inspectors were among the judges, giving students an opportunity to meet standards required for American Welding Society certification. Prizes were awarded to first-, second-, and third-place winners.

McGee said welders continue to be in demand, but the profession takes dedication to excel.

“One of the reasons they always are looking for good welders is that it takes a steady hand. And some people, no matter how badly they truly want to be the best of the best, they just don’t have the natural gift,” he said. “They can work at it and accomplish the goal, but it’s a really hard industry to be great at.”

Many students who have gone through Blinn’s welding program have reached that level, McGee added.

“I have students who graduated in May who have already reached $3,000 a week (in salary),” he said.

The Blinn Welding Program offers competency-based training in welding technology for students pursuing college credit or continuing education. The hands-on, skills-development curriculum includes basic metallurgy and inspection procedures in addition to various welding techniques and processes.

Hodde Center Director David Yeager said Blinn’s welding courses have generated “a lot of interest,” including from students who are using those classes as part of their degree goals. Others go directly to jobs in that industry.

“I think one of the unique things about Blinn and the welding program is the depth of knowledge that you can obtain in any of the programs,” Yeager said. “Our instructors really like to help the students do their best. A student interesting in welding wants to get out there and weld and that’s the way we designed the program. Our instructors have done a great job putting them in a lab and saying, ‘Get out here and weld.’”

Lilu Garza, a Huntsville High School student who was among the competitors, said she was introduced to welding by a family member.

“I like welding because my stepfather brought it up to me and asked me if I wanted to cut,” said Garza. “I said sure, so I decided my sophomore year to take college-level welding. It’s very interesting.”

Fellow Huntsville High School student Keith Wokenfuss called welding “entertaining.”

“I just think it’s fascinating and cool to do,” said Wokenfuss.

For more information regarding the Blinn Welding Program, visit www.blinn.edu/workforce or email welding@blinn.edu.

AWARD WINNERS

Level 1 - 2F Single Pass E7018 SMAW AWS D9.1

1.

Beau Smotek

Jersey Village

2.

Chris Ospina

Cypress Ridge

3.

Sarah Warner

Huntsville

Level 2 - 3F Vertical Up, Down, Both - Single Pass GMAW AWS D9.1

1.

Brant Prause

Columbus

2.

Nick Padfield

Cypress Ridge

3.

Jayden Ladewig

Brenham

Level 3 - 2G Groove Plate GMAW-S Root and FCAW Fill and Cap - ASME Section IX

1.

Kyle Britt

Huntsville

2.

Alex Vazquez

Cypress Ridge

3.

Kolton Brod

Columbus

Level 3 - 2G Pipe GMAW-S Root and FCAW Fill and Cap - ASME Section IX

1.

Carlos Vera

Fayetteville

2.

David Aguilar

Royal

3.

Zaith Rodriguez

Giddings

Team Build

1.

Cypress Ridge

 

2.

Giddings

 

3.

Fayetteville

 

Tool ID and Knowledge Quiz

1.

Jonathan Jameson

OBJ

2.

Ely Hunt

Giddings

3.

Carter Groschke

Cinco Ranch

Cutting

1.

Isaiah Douglas

Klein Forest

2.

Carlos Vera

Fayetteville

3.

Mark Borgas

Yoe

Underwater Welding

1.

David Aguilar

Royal

2.

Jayshawn Tillison

Klein Forest

3.

Brant Prause

Columbus

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