SHS students advance to state-level welding competition after IWCS hosts district event

Published 5:58 pm Monday, March 25, 2024

Smithfield High School senior Keegan Saunders will compete at the state level SkillsUSA welding competition on April 20 after recently winning the district competition, which this year was hosted locally at Isle of Wight County Schools’ welding lab at SHS for the first time in the event’s history.

Aiden Miller, another SHS senior, placed third at the district level. A third SHS senior, Brayden Murden, also competed locally on behalf of IWCS. All three are enrolled in instructor Paul Miller’s welding career and technical education course.

Saunders will participate in the state-level Individual Welding Competition.  IWCS will also be represented in Virginia Beach in the three-person Fabrication Team Competition by students Miller, Murden, and Jack Maurey, also a senior at SHS.

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At the district level, IWCS participated alongside students from the Virginia Beach Technical Center, Pruden Center in Suffolk, the Chesapeake Science and Technical Center, and Norfolk Public Schools.

Before the start of the eight-hour competition, students received a safety orientation, a brief walkthrough of the area, and were then given their assignment. The project called for each participant to identify their parts, cut their parts to the correct size, use the oxy-fuel torch to apply bevels where needed, and read and interpret weld symbols in order to apply correct welds with the proper welding technique.

The project was developed by Liebherr Mining Equipment Company, who served as the host for the competition. Ryan Foster from Liebherr explained how the difficulty level of the project represented what students could experience at state or national skill level competitions.

Members of the welding industry donated materials, equipment, and their time to ensure the success of the competition.

Judges for the event were from Liebherr, Jefferson Lab, Acoustical Sheet Metal, Mike Charles and Associates, and Fairlead Ship Repair. Select Arc provided weld wire for the competition, while Liebherr supplied all of the steel and the awards. ARC3 Gases loaned a welding machine and fuel outfits, along with food and prizes.