ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – The Upper Michigan Welding Educators hosted an inaugural competition for students learning the trade.
The event was hosted by Bay College in collaboration with the Delta Schoolcraft Intermediate School District. Twenty-six students put their skills to the test in a written test and a welding performance test.
“When everything is all said and done, it goes on to a destructive test where we actually cut specimens and we destroy the weld,” said Cliffton Danis, Delta Schoolcraft ISD welding instructor. “We cut it apart and we see if it breaks.”
If the students’ work meets the qualifications set by the American Welding Society, they will receive a certification.
“It’s giving them a lot of the tools that they’re going to need when they actually go out and seek employment in the welding industry,” said Danis. “This is all basically built to mimic that and to give them that experience.”
Once certified, the students will be equipped for a career in an industry that Danis says greatly needs new skilled workers.
“All the people that have been in the industry 20 – 40 years are all retiring,” he said. “That’s opening up a huge void that we’re trying to fill.”
Certified students also have the option to continue their education and further develop their skills at a college or university.
“They can expand their knowledge and skill level with various welding processes, which should give them even a little bit more of a leg up getting in the industry,” said Nick DuPont, lead welding instructor at Bay College.
In addition to preparing them for the future, the competition also fuels students’ passion for welding.
“From a young age, my family’s always welded and I’ve been interested in it,” said senior Joseph Helsel. “It was kind of a hobby of mine at first, and it’s taken over my life. I love it, every day.”
“I enjoy welding,” said Gavin Angsten, a junior. “It’s just something to do, and it could be a possible good career in the future.”