Welding Education at Lincoln-Way Central Gets Boost from Miller Contest
Teacher Daymon Gast and his high school welding program received new welding technology in the Who’s Building You? contest.
Training new welders
When Daymon Gast first started teaching welding classes 17 years ago at Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox, Illinois, he wanted to make sure he was instructing his students on the most current skills and expectations from the industry.
“When I first arrived at Lincoln-Way, I knew how to weld but didn’t feel ready to teach an entire year of welding,” Gast says. “So I went out there to the industry to see what the expectations were.”
Gast consulted with Pipefitters Local 597, as well as with welding companies and community colleges in the area. He also studied and took the exam to become a certified welding inspector (CWI) to enhance his welding knowledge.
“I feel like that really took it to the next level,” Gast says. “I used that experience to help my students learn more about weld expectations and even becoming certified themselves.”
High school welding program
That’s the type of dedication Gast has shown to his students over the years — organizing and hosting a districtwide welding competition each year and acting as advisor to the school’s SkillsUSA welding team. In addition to welding, Gast teaches subjects such as small engine repair, construction, woodworking and cabinetmaking.
After being nominated by former student Codey Underwood, Gast won the Who’s Building You? contest from Miller Electric Mfg. LLC. Gast was chosen as one of three finalists and then received more than 75 percent of the final public vote to win.
“I can say without a doubt that he made welding my favorite and most meaningful class while at Lincoln-Way,” Underwood wrote in his nomination essay. “Mr. Gast saw something in me that others did not, and he taught me to persevere and to be successful at work.”
During the final vote, Gast and his students took to social media and many students and staff in the school district got involved in promoting him in the contest. It also coincided with the SkillsUSA state competition in Springfield, Illinois, where Lincoln-Way welding students handed out flyers about voting for Gast.
“It was nice to be recognized, that the students would take the opportunity to do it,” Gast says.
Underwood, a 2018 Lincoln-Way graduate now in his second year as a pipefitter apprentice with Local 597, said he was happy to recognize Gast and the difference he has made for many students.
“He’s always trying to be a mentor and help students,” Underwood says.
Welding contest winners
Gast and Underwood received prize packages with a combined value of more than $30,000 for winning the contest. Underwood received a T94i™ welding helmet and a Millermatic® MIG welder, which he has used for projects in his home garage.
Gast received an AugmentedArc® augmented reality welding system for the Lincoln-Way Central welding lab, which also has many other Miller® machines, including Millermatic® 252, Millermatic 211, Dynasty® 280, Syncrowave® 210 and Maxstar® 210 welders.
“The students are having a blast with the AugmentedArc. I think it will be a great recruitment tool when we do elective fairs,” Gast says. “We’re just very grateful to Miller for recognizing the efforts of students and instructors.”
The Who’s Building You? contest is part of the Miller Building a Welder program.
“Miller supports initiatives focused on introducing individuals to welding as a career option, helping grow both the welding workforce and passion for the craft,” says Jessica Marhefke, Welding Education & Workforce Development at Miller. “We aim to inspire and encourage students and teachers with the latest, most innovative welding equipment — and today’s most realistic multiprocess welding simulation tool.”