Gaining Gold at Kansas City SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference

Gaining Gold at Kansas City SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference

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Find complete results from the three welding competitions at this years SkillsUSA.

Gaining Gold at Kansas City SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference

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SkillsUSA completed its 18th year in Kansas City, Mo with more than 6,000 high school and college students competing in the national leadership and skills conference. SkillsUSA is a national organization dedicated to high school and post-secondary students learning and practicing trade, industrial and technical skills.  The annual championships recognize the excellence of students and are a way to encourage the students to continue to learn and strive for their professional goals.

The 48th annual SkillsUSA leadership conference had to move up its schedule this year, thanks to Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in Kansas City. MLB needed Bartle Hall in KC at the end of the week, so SkillsUSA, for the first time ever, moved up its five-day event to Saturday. The welding all-stars from around the country still had plenty of time to show off their honed skills, hoping to hit home runs with the judges.

The student welders earned the opportunity to compete in three welding events, including a team event:

  • Welding Competitors receive contest drawings and a set of welding procedure specifications. Competitors complete the steel project and weld an aluminum project in various positions using a variety of filler metals and processes.
  • Welding Fabrication This is a team competition that requires three students from each school to use their welding and fabrication skills to build a designed project from the material provided.
  • Welding Art/Sculpture The competitor designs and produces a sculpture as well as gives a presentation regarding all aspects of his or her creation of the design.

Students from around the country competed in local level contests to earn the right to be in Kansas City for nationals. Over the four-day’s of competition the participants were required to apply current American Welding Society (AWS) standards in all contest drawings, symbols and terms. Hundreds of students competed in the welding and welding art/sculpture competitions. Forty-five teams of three teammates participated in the welding fabrication challenge.   

The contestants were competing for gold – literally. SKillsUSA awards medals to the top three contestants in each category with separate winners for high school age competitors and students in college or post-secondary education. 

The gold medalist in the high school welding competition is Dillon Belair of Ponca City, Okla. and Pioneer Technology Center. Tanner Tipsword took the welding gold on the college level. Tanner is from Torrington, Wyo., and Eastern Wyoming College.

Team U from Douglas High School in Douglas, Wyo., took gold in the welding fabrication competition. Josh Coudret, Skeeter Judd and Jake Lake make up Team U.

On the post-secondary side Team B –- Dexter Thayn, Austin Welch and Chad Malnar, from the College of Eastern Utah in Price, Utah –- were the gold medal winners in welding fabrication.

The Welding Sculpture competition always attracts the crowds along with talented welders, and this year was no different. Kyle Lucas from Vanguard Career Center in Fremont, Ohio, welded a creative piece combining sharp angles with round accents to win the high school gold. South Georgia Technical College student Daniel Summer took the post-secondary gold with his western theme sculpture.

For 20 of the highest scoring age eligible SkillsUSA welding participants from this year and the 2011 event the challenges will continue. These 20 welders will compete for a $40,000 welding education scholarship through AWS, funded by Miller. The competitors will submit WorldSkills type projects to AWS Skills Competition Committee members for evaluation to select the best six.

These six will then compete at the U.S. Invitational Weld trials at FABTECH 2012 against one Australian, two from the United Kingdom, and two from China.  The top three U.S. competitors will be selected at FABTECH will then have a one-week intense training with past TeamUSA Medalists in Alabama in January to prepare for the TeamUSA Finals welding event. This TeamUSA Finals weld event does not have a final location yet but is expected to happen in Washington DC in late February. One student will be the winner of the scholarship and will compete at WorldSkills in Leipzig, Germany, in July of 2013.

Stay tuned to to see more updates, including the competition at FABTECH, as these young welders compete for a jump-start on a welding career.

Published: August 29, 2012
Updated: May 12, 2020