Welding Dynasty: USU Eastern Student Welders Best in Country, Again


USU Eastern Press Release

After a week of intense competition in Huntsville, Alabama, a Utah State University Eastern welding student emerged victorious with the gold medal at the USA Weld Trials final weld-off.

Wyatt Hansen is now preparing for WorldSkills 2024 in Lyon, France, in September. He will be the sole representative from the USA at this competition, which is the technical skills equivalent to the Olympics.

“Success in welding, honestly, comes down to you as a person,” Hansen said. “How much you want to train and how much of your time you want to invest will ultimately determine your outcome.”

Hansen, alongside his fellow USU Eastern welder Benjamin Cornaby, showcased unparalleled skill and determination while training and competing. Cornaby himself secured the silver medal. Having two contestants sweep the top two spots in the nation is a rare first for USU Eastern, though the program has repeatedly produced the nation’s top welders.

The WorldSkills 2024 competition in Lyon will feature participants from over 65 countries and regions competing across 62 skill competitions. With an estimated 250,000 spectators, including students, policymakers, employers and technical experts, the event serves as a global platform to showcase excellence in the trades.

As part of his training, Hansen will travel to Canada, Australia and back to Huntsville. He’ll participate in smaller competitions that will help prepare him for WorldSkills 2024.

Hansen will work closely with his coaches, mentors and past competitors to ensure his readiness for the September competition.

“There’s a lot more to the competition than just welding,” Hansen said. “There’s also knowing the right people and having the right help.”

All of the instructors at USU Eastern are past competitors, so they know what to expect, how the scoring works, and how to guide Hansen to do his best.

“Our success has a lot to do with the past instructors and competitors,” said Jeremiah Garcia, a USU Eastern professional practice instructor for welding who coaches Hansen. “They all brought something new and left something for the next instructor and competitor to work off of, making the program and competitions improve year after year.”

The USU Eastern welding program has had nearly a decade of success at these competitions. Recent alumni of the program Jordan Packer, Jordan Wynn and Chandler Vincent have done well and built up USU Eastern’s reputation. Hansen received inspiration from these former competitors and will even train with some of them to prepare for WorldSkills.

“The work has just begun for Wyatt,” said Packer, who represented the USA at WorldSkills 2022 and received the bronze medal and the Best of Nation award from among the students representing the U.S. in all fields. “It’s going to be a crazy couple of months for him. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so it’s worth every single minute.”

Coaching Hansen is “easy,” according to his instructors and mentors. His drive for success means he needs no prompting to show up for training day after day. His support system at USU Eastern provides focus and direction, helping Hansen set attainable goals to improve every kind of welding technique. His instructors can often be found watching Hansen weld, helping him inspect his welds, pointing out areas that need work and preparing material for welding.

“Every contestant is different and has to be approached differently,” said Austin Welch, assistant welding professor at USU Eastern and coach. “Personally, I see my biggest role as a facilitator to help them meet their needs and maximize their training efficiency. I tell them that I’m in if they’re in. I’ll give 100% if they’ll give 100%.”

Both Hansen and Cornaby certainly did give 100%, dedicating the last eight months to their training by spending 12-16 hours a day, six to seven days a week in the shop. Hansen plans to continue this rigorous training regime through September.

The reason for his success becomes apparent when you learn Hansen’s favorite quote: “Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard.”

“I’ve lived by those words throughout this entire process,” he said. “The harder you work, even if you don’t necessarily get it right every time, you still learn. And so you’ve just got to work hard.”

So what’s USU Eastern’s secret to success at these competitions, year after year?

“The secret to success is that there is no secret to success,” said Jake Clement, a USU Eastern professional practice instructor and coach for welding. “There is a difficult but well-known path to success. It involves trying even when you are afraid to fail. It involves pushing ahead in the face of great adversity. It involves falling and getting back up again. The program here is special because we never give up, and we have a goal to make every day a little better than yesterday. We are not afraid to put in the hard work that it takes to excel.”

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