SkillsUSA welding competition teaches students ‘its OK to work with your hands’

Bryan Harris of TMCC performs oxy-fuel cutting during the SkillsUSA competition Thursday at WNC.

Bryan Harris of TMCC performs oxy-fuel cutting during the SkillsUSA competition Thursday at WNC.

SkillsUSA held a welding competition for young welders all over the state of Nevada, from both high school and postsecondary students at Western Nevada College on Thursday. Students showed off their welding skills and networked for their future careers.

For the competition, students formed groups of three to four, and cycled through six skill sets: shield and metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, oxy fuel cutting, an interview and resume portion, and then a written test. There were eight judges varying from instructors to welding company owners and operators.

“The combination of welding and education has given these young men and women an opportunity for success in both a career and in life,” said WNC welding instructor, Randy Naylor.

SkillsUSA is “an applied method for preparing America’s high performance workers.” The interview portion of the competition asked students questions about how they believe welding will benefit their futures, what other skills they have to offer employers, what their plans and personal goals for the next five years are, and how their participation in the SkillsUSA competition personally benefited them.

“These guys are still young and learning. A lot of kids are here competing though, which means a lot of kids are interested in the trade,” said Juan Ramirez, WNC welding instructor. “Kids these days need to know its OK to work with your hands, and that you can make a good decent salary doing it. I always say, the important thing is finding joy in life. This is a great option for kids where the four-year college route doesn’t work for them. Welding is needed everywhere.”

Twenty-one students participated in the competition held at WNC, including one woman, Amairani Villanueva, a freshman at Great Basin College.

“I’m almost there (to my career). I have one more month,” said Villanueva. “My senior year of high school, one of my teachers put me in welding class, and I started to really enjoy it and pursue a career in it. I just love welding!”

Students have been preparing for the competition for about three months. Many students were competing for their first time, but students are able to compete for multiple years. Mostly all the students are considering careers in welding.

“I’d recommend this, it’s great to have under your belt, and great to show off your skills. It was a really fun day,” said Robert Avilla, a freshman at Career College of Northern Nevada.

Winners were announced Friday. Winners will go onto compete at the national competition level in Kansas City, Mo.

SkillsUSA is a national organization serving high school and college students and instructors who are enrolled in training programs in technical, skilled, and service occupations, including health occupations. It builds and reinforces self-confidence, work attitudes and communications skills. It emphasizes total quality at work, high ethical standards, superior work skills, life-long education and pride in the dignity of work.


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