Welding students place first in state competitions

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Cameron Clark

Steady handed, Mark Villagrana, senior, welds a piece of metal using the flux core welding process, which is done by using an automatic arc. The welding series that welders attended, included shows such as “Kick off” in Waller County Fair, “Weld off” at Blinn College Hodde Annex, and Alvin ISD’s “Welding Showdown.”

The welding students paced from hall to hall. As they rushed over to the locker room, music blasted as they walked in, the sparks’ warmth heating the room. With welding jackets and gloves equipped, they put on their steel boots, welding caps, and their c87 safety glasses, especially made for such an intensive practice.

Finally, they placed noise-drowning earbuds into their ears. Students skimmed over the assignment list before walking into the workshop. With a clear objective in mind, each welder began their task, eventually taking them to the award-winning status they continue to achieve with each contest.

At the Texas High School Welding Series, in which students Mark Villagiara, Vincent Quinos, Omar Perez, Hunter Krusleski, Christian Guerra, Beau Smotek, seniors, and Rene Romero, junior, competed by piecing together various metal parts through creating intensive heat and working machinery. Quinones and Smotek placed first in level one (beginner), and two (intermediate) in their respective competitions.

The school’s welding instructor, Doug Pearson, described the process of preparation for his students.

“The students work hard and practice until they can do it correctly,” Pearson said. “They want to be the best and work to achieve that goal. They all help each other and work well as a team. We do certification testing in the school shop as part of our program and they are used to the aspects of how to make a correct weld in various positions and processes,” Pearson said.

Cameron Clark
As sparks fly, Omar Perez, senior, welds together a T-Joint, a type of welding joint where two structures are placed together at a 90 degree angle, which makes the edges come together in the center of a plate or component. Perez then uses a 4F overhead position, where fillet welds are approximately triangular in cross sectional shape and are made on base pieces whose surfaces or edges are exactly 90 degrees to each other.
“Since last year, I’ve liked being in welding because you’re basically making art by combining metal together and just being in the shop, putting things together,” Perez said. “Welding has made me think about my future career a lot more, I feel as if I’ve become more mature due to it” Perez added.

The welding competition series included shows “Kick off” in Waller County Fair, “Weld off” at Blinn College Hodde Annex, and Alvin ISD’s “Welding Showdown.”

“When the students compete, they are focusing on doing a perfect weld and now worrying about the other contestants in the competition,” Pearson said. “That focus makes them the best.”

Smotek also placed first in level one at the Washington Country Weld Off at Blinn College.

“Welding has made a huge impact in my life,” Smotek said. “The guys in the shop aren’t just my classmates, they are my family. Everything I do in the shop is for them but mainly for my teacher, Mr. Pearson,” Smotek said. “He’s made me the welder I am today [and] I can’t thank him enough for all the hard work he does for us,” Smotek added.

Smotek is excited for his future in welding and collaborating with his teammates.

“For future competitions I will work harder and help my teammates out with any new techniques they can use to make the competition easier or learn from their ideas,” Smotek said.

Mariela Vargas
With a look of determination, Vincent Quinones, senior, welds a shielded metal arc. Also known as “stick welding”, it serves as a manual arc welding process that uses a consumable electrode coated in flux, which is a combination of both carbonate and silicate materials, as it then lays the weld. Quinones placed first in the second (intermediate) level at the Alvin ISD’s “Welding Showdown.” As a result, he received an AWS [American Welding Society] D9.1 certificate, as well as a $1,000 scholarship.

In addition, Vincent Quiniones, placed first in the second level at Alvin ISD. He received an American Welding Society D9.1 certificate, as well as a $1,000 scholarship.

“Ever since I started welding, it’s like it just clicked. I knew it was something that I loved since I love working with my hands,” Quinones said. “I felt pretty good for my first competition. I practiced, looked at videos, and I hope to bring home more trophies.”

Other welders, Perez, Krusleski, Villagrana, Romero, and Guerra, all found success within their respective competitions. Perez placed sixth at Washington County and ninth at Alvin; Krusleski placed third in Waller County and sixth in Alvin; Villagrana placed ninth in Washington County as well as 10th place in Rockdale. Romero placed eighth at Waller County, and Guerra placed second at Alvin.

The welding students will also be attending the 7th Annual competition at Cypress Ridge High School in early January.