Three students from Battle Ground High School competed at the Charter College Welding Contest in Vancouver on April 15, securing spots in the top five.
Junior Jacob Dickey took second place in the competition and won a $5,000 scholarship, while senior Justin Tamez placed third and won a $3,000 scholarship. Senior Thomas Sauser secured fifth place.
“They did really good,” said welding instructor Tod Garred. “They were all pretty much first-year welding students. I’ve only had Jacob for a semester and he’s doing really well. It’s the others’ first year and they’re doing well too.”
The students were evaluated on a written exam, welding fitting, shielded metal arc welding, and gas metal arc welding.
Garred said the written exam was based on materials put together by the American Welding Society. It focused on topics like identifying different types of welds, measurements, and general welding theory. The fitting portion involved fitting metal together and matching it to specifications on a drawing, as well as joining configurations of the metal, he said.
Garred said shielded metal welding is an old-fashioned procedure where the arc needs to be struck and positioned correctly, while gas metal arc welding is based on a wire feed.
During those events, the students had to create a multitude of joint configurations on the metal they were working with.
“This was all one big piece that they put together with different pieces of metal. On the drawing, there were areas they weren’t supposed to weld, so they had to know how to read the symbols in order to know where to weld,” Garred said.
He said the students had to play catch up, since they weren’t able to participate in welding at the school for two years because of the pandemic.
As the students worked from home, Garred said they focused on the theory of welding.
“(With theory), we teach welding symbols and different gasses we might use, types of welding rods, and different metals and how to treat them,” Garred said.
Among their prizes, Dickey and Tamez won welding hoods, which are used to protect their faces in the welding process, tape measures, and other tools of the trade.
According to Garred, this was the first time Charter College hosted the welding contest. In the past, the class competed in the SkillsUSA welding and metal fabrication championships, which was also on pause for two years because of the pandemic.
The class was able to compete in the national championship by SkillsUSA in 2015 and 2016, where they won the regional and state contests.
“(The national championship) went well. It was tough for them, but they did it,” Garred said. “It was an eye-opener for them.”
At the previous SkillsUSA National Championship, Garred said the team competed in the metal fabrication competition, where they created a smoker out of welded metal. The students drew the plan themselves based on the materials they were given.
“It’s a very difficult contest. Not a lot of people could do it,” Garred said.
Junior Thomas Fallon from Prairie High School placed first in the Charter College Welding Contest and Lucas Lyle took fourth place.
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