(MARSHALL, Texas) – Texas State Technical College’s Marshall campus hosted a welding competition for area high school students on Thursday, March 30.
Over 130 students from 27 area high schools competed in the contest.
Students were separated into two divisions. The junior division included freshmen and sophomores, and the senior division included juniors and seniors. Both divisions were asked to make a 6.5-inch cube out of steel with a hole on one side.
The event was sponsored by manufacturing company Komatsu, which also provided three judges. They were asked to judge on the criteria of appearance and quality, specifically the squareness of the cubes and the quality of the contestants’ torch-cutting skills.
Andrew Winkler, a welding engineer for Komatsu and one of the judges for the competition, said competitions like these give students the opportunity to try and see new things.
“To some degree, it gives them a chance to see the things that they don’t see in normal life,” he said. “It gave them the chance to weld on something that’s not just a nice little corner or two flat plates set together. They have to do a mix of skills, some cutting skills, and some grinding and some welding.”
First-place winner for the junior division, Paxton Darnell of Beckville High School, said the most challenging part of the competition was making the cube square. He added that he had not expected to place.
“It caught me off guard, I honestly didn’t think I was going to win first place at all, or top three,” he said. “I’m still surprised.”
Junior division winners won Amazon gift cards, with third place winning $100, second place winning $200 and first place winning $250.
For the senior division, Komatsu sponsored three TSTC scholarships. Third place won a $900 scholarship, second place won a $1,500 scholarship and first place won a $2,000 scholarship. In addition, SkillsUSA donated a $500-per-semester TSTC scholarship to the first-place winner.
Winkler encouraged the students to continue to engage with these types of opportunities.
“It’s a big world, and there are a lot of opportunities,” he said. “Just because you don’t get the one today doesn’t mean you won’t get the one tomorrow. Even just competing in a thing like this, you get skills that you didn’t have, you get to see a part of life that you didn’t have, and you rub shoulders with people that maybe you wouldn’t have run into within your normal circles.”
Russell Hutcherson, lead instructor for Marshall’s Welding program, said he hopes to continue hosting these competitions.
“These types of competitions get students excited for the day-to-day prospects of what they can do for a living,” he said. “Hopefully hosting competitions like this can instill a sense of pride in the students.”
TSTC offers Welding Technology at each of its 10 campuses located throughout Texas. Marshall’s campus offers an occupational skills achievement award and several certificates of completion in the program.
According to onetonline.org, welders, cutters, solderers and brazers can earn a yearly median salary of more than $47,000 in Texas. These jobs are expected to increase in the state by 23% between 2020 and 2030, according to the website.
Welding Technology is one of nine programs at TSTC that have money-back guarantees. The college’s commitment to participating students is simple: If they do not have a job in their field within six months after graduation, they will receive a full refund of their tuition. For more information on the Money-Back Guarantee program, visit https://www.tstc.edu/admissions/tuition/.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.