Welding Competition & BBQ at FABTECH 2016

Written by: Asra Jawaid
Written by: Asra Jawaid

FABTECH 2016, North America’s largest collaboration of technology, equipment and knowledge in the metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing industries, will host the 2016 Welding Without Borders: Welding Thunder Fabrication Team Invitational on Wednesday, November 16th, from 9 am to 5 pm and Thursday, November 17th, from 7 am to 1 pm in the Silver Lot of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The event was founded in 2012 by Samuel Colton, a professor of welding and manufacturing technology at the Arizona Western College Ernest Lopez Welding Institute. Colton is also the founder of Welders Without Borders. “As the primary volunteer for Welders Without Borders serving in a number of countries and working to organize extraordinary technical education events with industry partners, I saw a need for instructors and students to come together in a fun and competitive way to showcase their talents,” he said.

Hosting the Welding Thunder Competition at FABTECH is a boon for the competitors, the event, and the industry as a whole. “FABTECH is all about creating opportunity for those in manufacturing,” said Joe Krall, American Welding Society’s show co-manager. “If you look across our industries, there is tremendous opportunity for young people in terms of employment and professional advancement. Having these exceptionally talented students at FABTECH lets them witness firsthand what their bright futures could hold, and we’re excited to see them show off their skills at the competition.” Apparently, the participants agree. “Welding Thunder 2016 means the world to me, not just as a student at Arizona Western College, but as a person as well,” said Eddie Gomez, a welding technology major. “With this year’s competition being held in Las Vegas at FABTECH, going on this trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete as a fabricator with a great team of people.”

This year, the two-day student competition will be sponsored by AWS’s District 21. High school and college-level welding teams will use the provided drawings to weld a griddle and grill. Working from special “Welding Thunder” road-rig trailers and under the guidance of teachers or professors from their respective schools, the student teams will supply the required bill of materials and use tools they already have to make their creations. If they choose, the students may also use additional building materials, known as “secret components,” to further customize their projects. When completed, the students will use their newly-built grilling equipment to compete against one another in a friendly steak-and-eggs cook-off.

Student contingent from Mingus Union High School at the 2013 Welding Thunder Competition.
Student contingent from Mingus Union High School at the 2013 Welding Thunder Competition.

Colton will be one of the instructors guiding a team of between ten and 30 students from Arizona Western College. The contingent of students from each school usually numbers in the double digits. However, only five students will be allowed to weld in the pit at any one time. According to Colton, students are allowed to tag in and out so that everyone gets a chance to participate. According to Colton, in past years there have been as many as 12 participating teams and this year 17 are registered to compete. The participating schools and technical training programs include: Arizona Western College Ernest Lopez Welding Institute, in Yuma, AZ; Chaffey High School, in Ontario, CA; Central Arizona College, in Coolidge, AZ; Cortez High School, Phoenix, AZ; Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA; East Career & Technical Academy, Sunrise Manor, NV; East Valley Institute of Technology, Mesa, AZ; Flagstaff High School, Flagstaff, AZ; La Mirada High School, La Mirada, CA; Mingus High School, Cottonwood, AZ; Mohave Community College, Kingman, AZ; Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology, Snowflake, AZ; Paso Robles High School, Paso Robles, CA; Red Mountain-Skyline High Schools, Mesa, AZ; Western Maricopa Education Center, Glendale, AZ; and Yuma High School, Yuma, AZ.

The categories in which awards will be presented include: Best use of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) for project; best welded fabrication project; best-themed team (equipment and uniform appearance); best BBQ lunch; and the People’s Choice Award. In addition, CAID Industries Inc., will award a $500 scholarship to the most valuable welder on the high school team with the best grill. The scholarship can be used to attend the Arizona Western College Ernest Lopez Welding Institute.

Wednesday, the first day of the competition, will be devoted exclusively to team welding and fabrication. The secret component welding and fabrication period will take place on Thursday morning, followed by the cook-off and then the awards ceremony. Organizers encourage attendees to bring anyone else who would like to attend though they know that only one instructor and five welders will be allowed in the pit at any one time.

For more information about FABTECH or to register to attend, visit www.fabtechexpo.com.

5 thoughts on “Welding Competition & BBQ at FABTECH 2016”

  1. I must say, there would be no shortage of welders in North America if all instructors were like Sam Colton, certainly a role model for us all. I was fortunate to meet him in Indianapolis a few years ago and was totally impressed with his enthusiasm, talent and charisma. With him it’s contagious, what a guy…

  2. What a great way for youth to show off their skills and to apply what they have learned in school. I believe that it is a life changing experience for students to be recognized for their effort. Also it is the best way for students to learn the breadth and depth of welding by walking the convention floor at FABTECH. Plus we all need to understand that this is only possible from dedicated instructors and welding programs. Hats off to these teaching professionals and also to the sponsors and leadership of the Welding Thunder Competition for their great work and support. I will be there to support this and ask all seasoned welding professional to contribute their time and means for worthy causes as this.
    Larry Zirker, WE

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