Welding students from Newaygo and Muskegon counties had more on the line than just bragging rights as they competed on December 8 in the newly expanded Innovation Lab at the Muskegon Area Career Tech Center. Certified Welding Instructor Darek Scarlavai of Sheet Metal Workers Local 7 served as the competition judge, and also scouted out new talent for employment opportunities.
To qualify for the competition, welding students from both career tech centers participated in a trial prior to the event. Charles Figuorua (Hesperia), Lucas Rosel-Pieper (Grant), Triston Rubin (Hesperia), and Tyler Young (Fremont), from Newaygo County Career-Tech Center, and Muskegon Area Career Tech Center students Tyler Gross (Fruitport), Nick Lieffers (Ravenna), and Bryan Sauers (Fruitport) were selected. Each student was responsible to perform a series of structural welds that were later evaluated using a bend test.
“Even though this is a competition, it is really just a learning experience for all of you,” said Scarlavai as he addressed the group before they began. “Don’t hesitate to ask me questions. I am here to help.”
At the end of the day-long competition, Muskegon Area CTC students Lieffers and Sauers were awarded first and second place respectively. Third place went to Newaygo County CTC student Triston Rubin. Event sponsors Miller Welding, Purity Cylinder Gases Inc., and Sheet Metal Workers Local 7 donated $1,110 in prizes to the competitors. Lieffers earned the first place prize, a Miller welding hood and backpack, while Sauers won the second place prize, a Miller flashlight and multi-tool. Rubin received a chipping hammer and metal brush for his third place prize. Each competitor was awarded a pair of welding gloves, safety glasses, USB, keychain, and other great prizes for their efforts.
Scarlavai was impressed with the skill of the student competitors as well as the quality of the facility that features ten new welding stations with high-efficiency RoboVent CrossFlow tables and brand new Miller and Lincoln Electric welders.
“We’ve always incorporated college and industry tours into our welding curriculum,” shared Welding Technology Instructor Rodney Bulthouse. “Competitions like these, though, that bring industry leaders to us and allow students to demonstrate their skills while getting feedback from professionals, are invaluable.”
Students completing a welding program at a career and technical education center can expect to make $12-13 an hour after graduation. Those who complete a four to five-year apprenticeship program will more than double that hourly rate averaging $30 an hour. Most students who complete the welding program in high school choose to pursue an apprenticeship. College options are also available.
The Welding Technology program and the 14 additional career development programs offered at the Muskegon Area Career Tech Center will be open to the public during Connect with Tech Night on Wednesday, January 24, 2018, from 5–7 p.m. or information is available at muskegoncareertech.com.