Welding Program is Right on Target


Thunderbolt Staff, Reporter

Across America, a huge need for master tradespeople exists. With the baby boomer generation retiring, a huge opportunity awaits millennials and Generation Z to earn positions in trade careers. Aside from mass job openings, there’s always a need for metal fabricators, welders, plumbers, carpenters, and more. Because trades are always in demand, there’s ample opportunity and strong job security.

The Cheyenne East Welding program is focused on giving students real-life skills that can transfer into that future employment. These welders are invited to show off their skills in the annual SkillsUSA competition.

The SkillsUSA Championships are competitive events showcasing the best career and technical education students. The philosophy of the Championships is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to keep training relevant to employers’ needs.

In early April, the EHS Technical Education department took two teams of three students to Gillette to compete in the event.

Junior Eric Butler, senior Devon Huston, and junior Karl Brennecke competed as a team and earned 2nd place in the high school division in the High School Wyoming SkillsUSA Welding Fabrication competition. East’s second team, consisting of junior Hayden Hancock, junior Ethan Harris, and sophomore Cyrus Raine, earned a 5th place finish.

After combining the high school and college divisions’ scores and analyzing the results, the team of Butler, Huston, and Brennecke would have placed 5th overall, beating out four colleges.

The teams were scored on four different conditions: a written test, the fabrication project itself, safety and resumes. East’s project received the highest score out of any high school team and was tied for 2nd overall, even factoring the college teams.

“We struggled with the written part of the test,” said Brenneke. “We had the best project score of anyone in the high school division, but our written score hurt us.”

This year’s project was a target practice machine consisting of six knock-down targets and one hanging target. The project made students utilize four different welding processes – SMAW, GTAW, GMAW, and FCAW. The Wyoming SkillsUSA Fabrication Contest is now the model for the National SkillsUSA contest. The competition at this contest is extremely difficult, and the contest is managed and judged by industry professionals.