The hour hand spun slowly, serenely and quietly around the clock three times. Meanwhile, with frantic precision and loud jolts of noise, the hands of creative high school students transformed piles of scrap metal into works of art at Moraine Park Technical College’s 13th annual Junkyard Challenge.
Sixteen students from Fond du Lac, Lomira, Mayville and Slinger high schools recently came to the College’s Fond du Lac campus for the event, where they had just three hours to turn random scraps of metal and structural material into elaborate welded creations – and did they ever. The students, who competed in teams, were challenged to create sculptures within the theme of agriculture, farming or ranching.
The teams were supervised by Moraine Park Welding Instructor Jeff Beach, who said the students did a remarkable job creating tractors and skid loaders from what had hours earlier literally been heaps of miscellaneous junk.
“Students arrived early in the morning to look over boxes and bins of oddball parts and things that were useful in another life. They have little time to put together a plan and choose the parts needed to put their plan into action,” Beach said, also praising the teamwork, skill and effort showcased to make it all come together.
Moraine Park welding program students are on hand to assist with welding and fabrication equipment issues and to ensure the safety of the high school students. The finished projects were then judged on originality, quality, complexity, team participation and safety.
“The judging criteria is based on skills critical to success in the workplace, which is why they are emphasized in this competition,” Beach said.
Rising above the field this year was Lomira, who won the championship with a skid load sculpture that earned a perfect score. Students on this first-place team were Allan Klink, Aidan Zielicke, Jacob Adelmeyer and Joe Adelmeyer. Instructor was Jon Marx.
Marx said he was pleased not only with the result of his team’s efforts but, more importantly, the learning that all the students got to experience through the event.
“The Junkyard Challenge, specifically, is great, because it makes kids think outside the box … they really have to plan and utilize their thinking skills as a team,” Marx said.
Just behind Lomira was runner-up Slinger, who made a tractor with large wheels for their project. Students on this second-place team were Allan Wesp, Matt Shea, R.J. Schmidt and Dale Kiley-Schaefer. Instructor was Aaron Pokrzywa.
From there, Fond du Lac took third place for its tractor and dragging implement sculpture. Instructor was Eric Ciha, with students Noah Hatch, Levi Burns, Ben Pertl and Ryan VanderGrinten.
Rounding out this year’s participants was Mayville, with the team of Evan Kehrmeyer, River Strachan, Zack Loduha and Brandon Hull taking fourth place for their small tractor creation. Instructor was Dave Seiler.
Judges this year were Shawn Justman from Metalcraft of Mayville, along with Tom Thiel and Mitch Schroeder from Amerequip
“The ingenuity to create what they needed from the material they had available was impressive,” Thiel said.
For more information about Moraine Park’s Welding and Metal Fabrication programs, visit morainepark.edu/programs.