Andrew Voss, a senior from West Bend West High School, competes at Moraine Park Technical College’s recent welding competition held at the College’s Beaver Dam campus. Voss won first place in the Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) category.

Andrew Voss, a senior from West Bend West High School, competes at Moraine Park Technical College’s recent welding competition held at the College’s Beaver Dam campus. Voss won first place in the Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) category.

Melting metals, scorching glows and sparks careening through the air of Moraine Park Technical College’s Beaver Dam welding lab. Such was the stage for area students, who squared off recently in a competition of speed, skill and accuracy at the College’s annual high school welding competition.

Supervised by Moraine Park Welding instructors Larry Clark and Gary Watry, students from Horicon and West Bend east and west high schools were judged on three different welding processes: Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) and Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW).

Clark said the field was strong this year, as the high school students got a hands-on taste of both the possibilities and pressures that come in the welding field.

“Competitions like this get these students out of the welding labs they are used to, using equipment they are not familiar with, competing against friends and strangers, while trying to do their best,” Clark said.  “Our competition uses industry standards for weld prints, welding symbols, weld quality, and weld applications that most high school students don’t get exposed to during their regular classes at school, showing them a different level they have the opportunity to explore and aspire to in the MPTC Welding program.”

West Bend East High School technology education teacher Jacob Gitter said this provides a valuable platform for his students.

“Welding competitions like this one, provide students with a great opportunity to prove their skills and interact with professionals in the welding trades,’ Gitter said.

The winners this year were both from West Bend. Senior Rikki Boldt won the SMAW and GMAW welding processes, while fellow senior Andrew Voss won for GTAW.

“It was a great learning experience that challenged my skills,” Bolt said.

Other participants from West Bend included senior Steven Pfaff and juniors Isaac Schrage, Leo Miller and Erik Haver.

Horicon High School students competing in the welding competition included seniors Nick Kufalk, Tytan Gress and Tyler Kirkland, along with junior Alec Langkav.

The welds were scored by area professionals from Mayville Engineering Company, Inc. (MEC). The judges – Alex Crimmings, Chad Clouse, Chris Benike, and Josh Pollesc – also have a Moraine Park connection. They were part of a training class Moraine Park conducted last fall and this spring to get them ready to take the three-part, six-hour tests with the American Welding Society to obtain their Certified Welding Inspector credentials. All four passed.

Crimmings said the students’ work was impressive to see.

“I give all the students who participated a lot of credit. The contest put them into situations where they were welding out of position, welding around boxes in tight areas, and correctly applying weld callouts.  Many professionals struggle in those situations,” Crimmings said.

Clark encouraged anyone considering a career in welding to take a look, because jobs are in demand.

“Welding career opportunities are abundant in the MPTC district, and our Welding and Metal Fabrication programs are designed to develop the skills necessary to start those careers. Our instructors have the on-the-job experiences needed to show students what’s going to be expected of them in the business,” Clark said.

For more information about Moraine Park’s Welding and Metal Fabrication programs, visit morainepark.edu/welding.