The AWS/SkillsUSA series of contests prepares the young welders of tomorrow to meet the challenges ahead through education and healthy competition. It is a two year process that begins at the local level and culminates with the WorldSkills Competition, the next of which will be held in Brazil in 2015.
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Each year, students from local high school and post-secondary welding programs compete in SkillsUSA competitions. A series of local, district, and state-wide contests decide which two students will represent their state at the national level. Each participating state sends its high school and post-secondary champion to the national SkillsUSA Championships held in Kansas City each June. Contestants participate in a timed competition designed to test their ability to use various welding tools and processes.
These include weld-measuring gauges, oxy-fuel and plasma arc cutting processes, flux core arc welding, gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, and shielded metal arc welding. The SkillsUSA Championship awards a gold, silver, and bronze medal to the top three high-school participants and the top three post-secondary participants.
Team USA Welder Selection
Every two years, the American Welding Society invites the top 48 welding competitors from the National SkillsUSA Championships to compete in the four-stage Team USA Welder Selection that decides which welder will represent the United States at the World Skills Competition.
For example, AWS will select the top 48 finalists from the 2013 and 2014 SkillsUSA Championships (24 finalist from each year) to participate in the first stage of competition that will decide who goes to the World Skills Competition in 2015.
AWS U.S. Invitational Pre-Trials
The first stage of the Team USA Welder Selection is the AWS U.S. Invitational Pre-Trials. Pre-Trial contestants are given a set of WorldSkills Competition projects to complete in their home states. These projects are scored by the AWS Skills Competition Committee, and the students that submit the top six projects are invited to participate in the next trial.
The top six finalists also receive a $1,000 scholarship for books, tuition or lab fees, and a one-year AWS membership. It’s important to note that contestants must be 22 years old or younger in the year of the World Skills Competition to be eligible to compete.
AWS U.S. Invitational Weld Trials
Every two years, the top 6 Pre Trial finalists compete for the top 3 positions at the AWS U.S. Invitational Weld Trials held at the annual AWS/FABTECH Exposition. These six Americans compete alongside competitors from up to 24 WorldSkills countries.
This event fosters international camaraderie and greatly improves the American welders’ ability to compete on the world stage.
AWS TeamUSA Finalist Tune-up
The top 3 finalists from the AWS U.S. Invitational Weld Trials go on to the AWS TeamUSA Finalist Tune-up. This is a one week intense training event conducted by past TeamUSA Welding competitors, the U.S. Expert to the WorldSkills welding competition and the AWS Skills Competition Committee.
Three very qualified and skilled welders emerge ready to compete for the chance to represent their country at the WorldSkills Welding Competition.
AWS TeamUSA Finals
The final weld off takes place at the AWS TeamUSA Finals. It is a week-long event that invites the public to learn more about the competitors and the welding industry. The gold medalist of the AWS TeamUSA Finals earns the right to represent the United States at the WorldSkills Welding Competition.
After participating at the WorldSkills Competition, the U.S. representative receives up to $1,000 in AWS publications, a four-year AWS membership, and a $40,000 four-year scholarship from the AWS Foundation and the Miller Electric Manufacturing Company.