Olympics for welding? Well, sort of.
Winning medals in welding at the recent SkillsUSA state competition was a big deal for Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College student teammates Brandon White, Michael ‘Chase’ Starkey and James Brown.
“Just to win something at the state level was huge for us,” said White.
SkillsUSA is a national student organization for high school and college students enrolled in career education programs that help develop skills, personal growth, and leadership and technical proficiencies.
The welding team members said they were confident going to the state competition.
“I kind of figured we were going to do well,” said Southern instructor Sheridan Taylor. “These students are talented and had done a good job preparing not only for the competition, but also for how to make a career out of welding.”
“Sheridan told us, ‘Don’t go and try to finish the project in a hurry; focus on quality, not quantity,’ and we did,” Starkey said.
The students designed and built a small welding table that can be used for small projects.
“We had to apply different welding techniques, and we got to use a lot of math skills to read the blueprints and apply all our welding processes,” White said.
“These students are great,” Taylor said. “Not only can they read the design plans, they take an idea from concept to completion, and performance proves their competence.”
Starkey sees welding as not only a technical career but as art. “It’s an opportunity to work with your hands. The process is so powerful and you are controlling it, it’s beautiful!”
“These young men have always shown a lot of promise in terms of their ability to apply their welding skills,” Taylor said, adding that they enjoy welding and look forward to each project.
CTC programs in high demand
The economy is changing and technical programs such as welding, mechatronics, electrical engineering technology and information technology are in high demand. According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics the growth rate for these careers will be higher than average through the year 2018.
Most of these programs do not require a four year degree and success can be found with many of the certificate programs as well.
Starkey and White are planning a career on the pipeline. Both are currently employed while attending classes but look forward to the working independence graduation will bring.
Getting ready for next year
Planning for the SkillsUSA event has already begun for next year. Taylor says they now have a team with the experience needed to bring home the gold. “2016 was a learning year. We hope to have more students, more coaches and more programs represented next year.”
If you are interested in a technical career or more information on the programs Southern provides visit us online at southernwv.edu