Sparks fly at Delta College

High school students compete in welding competition

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A competitor works on a standard wield. PHOTO BY KILLIAN BARNHART

On Jan. 26, Delta College played host to a competition between students in welding programs from eight California high schools.

The high schools included SJCOE, Venture Academy, Ripon, Escalon, Lincoln, Patterson, Orestimba and Mount Shasta.

“The competition is very even. It’s very interesting that students from all the different schools seem to be on the same page as far as their level. There will be one or two stands outs, but mostly, we can see all the instructors are all very, very even as we see in the results,” said judge Ken Herger.

Competitors had to pass a written exam, as well as demonstrate skills in the various forms of welding such as MIG, Stick and TIG welding from various different positions.

The competitors were provided several diagrams at various different stations for them to accurately replicate.

“They take pre-cut pieces of metal and weld them into certain positions so everything’s the same for every kid and they have a diagram they have to go by, so part of it is being able to understand the diagram and layout and part of it is the right process,” said Herger. “So, if you’re supposed to do a uphill weld, it’s an uphill weld, not a flat weld.”

The difference between a uphill weld and a flat weld lies in skill, due to running molten metal.

The process requires constant attention, the ability to see what the welder is doing and a complete understanding of what is being done and what needs to be done.

Flat welding, on the other hand, requires less pampering and has more room for small mistakes.

The Patterson High School team was composed of three seniors and a sophomore, of them was Gage McCord, one of the seniors whose interest in welding had developed out of a desire to continue his family’s lineage of shop working.

“I’ve always been a hands-on person,” McCord said. “My dad’s an electrician. It kind of sort of runs in the family, shop working. I kind of got into it because of that. It was the only one with shop-working outside of Mechanics, and I chose this.”

The winner of the competition would be awarded with various certificates and awards that would assist them at either finding a welding career or continue their education.

“Some kids take this and run. They become welders and move on. Some kids, it’s just a good learning experience. You remember learning how to weld all your life.

When you’re an IBM executive and in your garage you have a welder and you’re building a dune buggy or something. You never forget it,” said Herger.  

Manteca Tech took first place in the overall team category, with the teams Nic Littig taking first place in the individual competition and Nick Cantrell from Escalon High placing second.