Area High School Students Compete in SkillsUSA Welding Competition at WKCTC
Paducah, KY (02/02/2019) — Twelve area high school students were on the campus of West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) Friday to participate in the SkillsUSA regional welding competition.
SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations.
Participating welding students in the competition represented area technology centers (ATC) in Paducah and Mayfield/Graves, Murray/Calloway, and Fulton counties. Students were tested in discipline and each student had to perform a list of prescribed tasks within a given time.
Twelve welding students competed in a beginner or advanced level. Levi Kelley, and 16-year-old Nathan Herndon from Mayfield/Graves County ATC won the first and second place in the beginner level, respectively.
"I expected to do well, but I didn't know how well I was going to do" said Kelley. "I do like the facility and I like that they (WKCTC) set up this competition to have schools compete," said the 17-year old Graves County High School junior, "It's a fun program; SkillUSA running this is a nice thing for teenagers to do to compete against each other in the trades that they are learning."
Mayfield/Graves County ATC Instructor Charles Price said Kelley and Herndon are good buddies and have been competing against one another all year at the high school. "It's really impressive the kind of machinery you see here (at WKCTC) and the facilities you've got. They are getting to see about the next level they need in their career. I think it's a great experience for them," he said. "I'm very proud of them."
Daniel Crawford from Murray/Calloway County ATC won third place in the beginner level.
"This was my first time doing a (SkillsUSA) competition; I was really excited," said the 18-year-old Crawford, a senior at Calloway County High School. "Mr. Rose (Murray/Calloway ATC instructor) is an excellent instructor. I've gone back to what he's always told me, and I just put that to my challenge today."
Two students participated in the competition's advanced level, both from the Paducah Area Technology Center. Chander White, an 18-year old senior from Paducah Tilghman won first place and Scott Funkhouser, a 17-year-old senior from Livingston County won second place.
White said he would like to enroll in WKCTC's welding program following graduation from high school. "For sure. I definitely want to because I like supporting Paducah." He said he wants to stay close to home after college to work and be a part of his community.
Funkhouser has his sights to further his education in the military after high school, possibly using his welding skills for underwater welding in the Navy.
Virgil Holland, WKCTC's Welding Technology Program coordinator said the "goal of the competition is to find the best students with the highest skill level to send to the state (SkillUSA) competition, and then hopefully to go on to the nationals, to give them a sense of what their abilities can do for them. This competition is a confidence builder for the students and a good thing for the (welding) industry."
Airgas, Lincoln Electric, Miller Electric, and Bosch sponsored this year's welding equipment prizes awarded to student winners, which included auto darkening welding hood helmets, jackets, gloves, safety glasses and more.
"The prizes are something that the winning students can put in their hands now, but later on it will be better for their kids because they (the students) can have a better career; a better future," said Holland.
First and second winners in both the beginner and advanced level in WKCTC's February 1 competition are eligible to compete at the SKillsUSA state competition held in Louisville in April. The national competition will be held in Louisville in June.