Good as Gold: USU Eastern Welding Students Sweep National Competition


USU Eastern welding team receiving their awards at the National SkillsUSA competition in Atlanta, GA. (Photo Credit: Jake Clement)

USU Eastern Press Release

After several days of competition, Utah State University Eastern students took home a pair of gold medals at the annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, held this year in Atlanta. Students in the welding program took home gold in the individual welding contest as well as the team welding fabrication contest.

“After months of hard work and dedicated practice, our students all got the results they deserved,” said Austin Welch, assistant professor at USU Eastern and welding team advisor.

Wyatt Hansen (Roosevelt) placed first overall in the welding contest. Hansen was required to weld and cut multiple individual projects using several welding processes under a strict time limit. The projects are then judged blindly so the judges could be unbiased.

“Towards the end of the competition day, Wyatt’s projects had drawn a crowd,” said Jake Clement, welding instructor at USU Eastern. “It was easy to tell that Wyatt would be the winner if the decision was left to the public.”

Hansen is the second student at USU Eastern to win the SkillsUSA individual competition, and the first since 2008. USU Eastern students have medaled several times in the contest, but it was only the school’s second gold medal, a challenging achievement.

The team of Kenny Bell (Salt Lake City), Dallin Cardon (Price) and Noah Vergara (Eagle Mountain) also placed first overall in the welding fabrication contest. USU Eastern has won this contest four out of the last five years.

During the competition, the team had 6.5 hours to build a charcoal grill from the provided blueprints and materials. The team was judged on weld quality, fabrication skill, print conformity, teamwork and safety. It was USU Eastern’s eighth win and 11th medal since the contest was introduced in 2008.

“Dallin, Kenny and Noah had never participated in a national welding competition before,” Clement said. “It is nice if we can get at least one student on the fabrication team who has been at nationals before. This time, that wasn’t the case. I think that makes this win even more impressive. The team members kept their cool and stayed levelheaded, even under the intense pressure of a national competition.”

With a clean sweep of the two events, the instructors were proud of the effort and skill of their hardworking students. “Those of us in the welding department are feeling pretty overwhelmed with these results,” Welch said.

With all the sacrifices the students put in to hone their craft, the professors also commended them for their effort and determination to be the best they can be.

“All of our competitors sacrifice a lot to be in this competition,” Clement said. “They put off work so they can put in practice time. They sacrifice time with friends and family. They may make it look easy on the surface, but you cannot be a national champion without an enormous amount of effort.”

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